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8X3 L676z 53- 


From Main Street to Stockholm 

14 19(76 

i a i // 

MAR 2 7 






All rights reserved, Including 
the right to reproduce this book 
or portions thereof in any form. 

first edition 



Introduction ** 


I. The Beginning of a Career 3 

II. Publication and Success 37 


HI. Creation Abroad 7 1 

IV. A Reputation Established 104 


V. The Scientist as a Hero 121 

VI. Travel on Two Continents 159 


VII. Portrait of a Preacher *93 

VIII. Trouble in Kansas City and Boston 233 


IX. Marriage and Divorce *49 

X. The Nobel Prize 269 

Index 33 


When in December 1930 Sinclair Lewis rose to his feet in a palace in 
Stockholm to deliver the most unconventional Nobel Award address to 
which that distinguished gathering has ever listened, he made two con 
tradictory statements. He said that he had always been fortunate; and 
later that the American novelist must work alone, in confusion, unassisted 
save by his own integrity. If Lew^ s asjJiJI^ 
Nobel Award for Literature^ was not at that moment the most celebrated 
novelist in the United States, he was soon to become so when the Amer 
ican press, through the most vocal of its columnists, editorial writers, and 
literary pundits, blazed with indignation at his attack on such sacred 
institutions as William Dean Howells, Mark Twain, our universities, the 
Academy of Arts and Letters, and the New Humanists. Neither of his 
two statements was quite true as far as his own life was concerned. No 
man can be called consistently fortunate who has had to work for ten 
years alone and in confusion, and Lewis had endured the indifference of 
critics and the public to his novels before Main Street brought him fame 
almost overnight. For eleven years before the Nobel Award he had been 
assisted by the devotion and ingenuity of a young publishing house. Aside 
ff om a forgotten book for boys written under a pseudonym, he had pub 
lished before he came to Harcourt, Brace four novels which had got him 
nowhere near his goal, and he had worked for a score of magazines, news 
papers, and press associations until in 1914 he became an editor of George 
H. Doran s flourishing publishing house. What he wanted of life was 
freedom from routine tasks so that he could devote all of his energy to 
writing the novels that were forming in his mind. 

He learned in the hard school of experiment how to write short 
stories for two or three magazines and for George Horace Lorimer, the 
famous editor of the Saturday Evening Post who had given a chance to 
many youthful writers and who had created a national institution out of 


a small magazine. They were not very good short stories, as Lewis well 
knew, but they served their purpose. He was aware finally that he had 
won the long battle for freedom. The drama of his startling rise to fame 
was soon to begin. The publisher he needed was waiting off-stage, though 
neither Alfred Harcourt nor Sinclair Lewis was at the moment conscious 
of it. 

The involvement of these two men in each other s fortunes came 
about when Harcourt was in the trade department of Henry Holt and 
Company, and Lewis was respectably performing editorial and publicity 
functions across the street in the office of George H. Doran and Company. 
Harcourt had been brought up in New Paltz, a village in upper New 
York state; Lewis in Sauk Centre, an equally small community in Minne 
sota. They began to take lunch together in the ornamental grill-room of 
the old Waldorf on Fifth Avenue, and the narrowness and oddities of 
village life often proved to be a more interesting topic than books and 
authors. Lewis had a passion for the little people submerged in the cities 
and the crossroads of America; he had written about them in his unsuc 
cessful novels, and he had an idea stirring in his head that would not let 
him alone. 

Even in those early days he was one of the most stimulating rapid-fire 
conversationalists in America. He was also a youthful reformer with the 
illusion that the lot of men and women would be bettered if their faults 
could be pointed out to them. In the course of these meetings Harcourt 
realized that he had found a writer who had a capacity for enthusiasm 
and indignation, an astonishing memory for detail, and a new approach 
to contemporary American life. 

The die was cast the day Lewis walked into Harcourt s office at 
Holt s, shut the door and said, "Alf, I m going to write that small-town 
novel you ve been pestering me about. The title is Main Street and don t 
you mention it to a single person." Then the wheels began to turn. In 
1916 Lewis gave up his editorial work with Doran to devote himself to 
writing. Two years later he drove across country to the West Coast with 
his wife, Grace Hegger Lewis, in their Ford, and then back to Sauk 
Centre and his father s house to write a serial for Lorimer based on the 
trip. This was Free Air, the first of his books published by Harcourt, 
Brace, an innocently romantic and adventurous story of a small-town 
garage hand who fell in love with a girl from Brooklyn while she was 
motoring through the Middle West. 

In the spring of 1919 Alfred Harcourt resigned from Henry Holt 
and Company. He wrote Lewis at Sauk Centre that he did not know 
what he was going to do, whether to accept a post with another house or 
start his own firm. Lewis wired Harcourt to meet him in New York the 


following Sunday morning. "What I came on to say is," he told Harcourt 
at once, "don t be such a damn fool as ever again to go to work for some 
one else. Start your own business. I m going to write important books. 
You can publish them. Now let s go out to your house and start making 

He was taking a risk that few ambitious young writers would have 
contemplated, for it meant that he was leaving an established publishing 
house for a business venture that even in the best of times is hazardous. 
He had given his word; he was loyal, yet he was shrewd enough to sense 
that a firm headed by Alfred Harcourt and Donald Brace might succeed 
and would give to the books he was to write the enthusiasm and devotion 
he hoped for. 

There was another aspect to his decision to gamble with his future. 
Sinclair Lewis had a morbid fear of loneliness, perhaps the most obvious 
trait in his complex nature. He wanted to have friends. He liked and was 
charmed by women, but as in the case of so many men, the company of 
the most devoted and intelligent woman could not take the place of the 
conversation of male companions. But his friends were always drifting 
away from him. They could not keep up with him; or they could not 
endure for long the close scrutiny of an endlessly inquiring mind, or the 
long satirical monologues in which he imitated with astonishing virtuosity 
the accents of characters he had not yet brought to birth. Oddly enough 
he never parodied women; but the voices of long-winded men in smoking 
cars, of Babbitts and Elmer Gantrys and the men who knew Coolidge 
were always echoing in his friends ears. 

/Sinclair Lewis was determined to alter America s conception of itself. 
Early in his career he foresaw that he might win the Pulitzer Prize and 
the Nobel Award. He was linked with a publishing house from which he 
could safely wander to whatever part of the globe he pleased, and he felt 
that others who might join the enterprise would also be friendly associates 
in his ambitious design. The letters in this book, drawn from the files of 
Harcourt, Brace and Company, tell part of the story, from the founding 
of the firm to Lewis s last letter written in 1931 from Germany, where he 
had retreated after the Stockholm ceremonies were over. They do not tell 
all of it. Part of the story was developed in conversation rather than let 
ters, for Lewis was spending a certain amount of his time in and around 
New York. This was particularly true of the period preceding the Nobel 
Award and at other times indicated in the notes that go with the text. 
During the later years when he was gaining all he might have hoped for 
it is evident from his letters that his interest lessened in the way in which 
his victories had been won. He had become used to large figures and no 
longer was eager for the latest news and reports from the office. 


Lewis had for several years served the company unofficially as a 
scout and as its envoy in England and France, After Babbitt was pub 
lished in London, there was an immense curiosity about the man who 
had revitalized American literature, so that he was welcomed every 
where. Harcourt, Brace had acquired an extremely important list of 
British writers-John Maynard Keynes, Lytton Strachey, E, M. Forstcr, 
Virginia Woolf, and others of the Bloomsbury group-and to him they 
were all part of the firm. He describes in his letters the parties and dinners 
he attended, the houses he lived in, and his travels in England, France, 
Italy, and Germany. 

Through this correspondence the reader can discover the admirable 
qualities of Sinclair Lewis which were often not apparent to chance ac 
quaintances or even to those who met him frequently. He was unfailingly 
courteous and thoughtful of those who were associated with him. His 
opinions of the writers he met through his connection with the firm were 
shrewd. Occasionally his evaluation of the work of a young writer with 
whom he had made friends was too generous, though he always surren 
dered gracefully and rarely argued with the editorial opinions of the 
office. Though he was desperately anxious for success, he wanted others 
to take advantage of the expanding opportunities for American writers. 
He was not jealous of those who shared the limelight with him, or angry 
at adverse or unfair criticism. When one of his books failed to live up to 
his hopes, like The Man Who Knew CooKdge, or Mantrap, lie revealed 
his anxiety but never did he hint that he was disappointed in his publisher. 

These letters reveal a brilliant and dynamic man, deeply concerned with 

social problems, generous, restless, often unhappy, meticulous in his finan 
cial affairs, and almost exhaustively so in the accuracy of the details with 
which he surrounded his characters, so that the notes which he made 
before he began to write a novel were often as long as the completed 
manuscript. There are certainly no letters in the history of American 
publishing quite like this correspondence between Harcourt, and other 
members of the firm, and Sinclair Lewis. 




The Beginning of a Career 


315 South Broad Street, 
Mankato, Minn, 
June 12 
Dear Alf : 

Working hard on Main Street. Like this town immense. I wrote to 
Herbert E. Gaston (director of Nonpartisan League publications) about 
the NPL book, and he writes that he ll get in touch with you. He s soon 
going to Chi and may go on to NY. You might write him, especially if 
you ve settled yet where your office will be. If he doesn t do the book, 
he ll know the best man to do it. 

Lots of luck! Much regards to Mrs. Harcourt and Ellen Eayrs. 1 


117 Lorraine Avenue, 
Mount Vernon, N.Y. 
June 1 6 
My dear Lewis: 

After some confusing offers of rather extraordinary jobs, every thing 
is cleared up, and we are going after our own business. I think the firm 
name will be Harcourt, Howe and Brace. 2 Howe is at the moment the 
head of the English Department at the University of Indiana; the author 
of a set of school readers of which Scribner s have sold 5,000,000; editor 
of their Modern Students Library; and a corking fellow of about forty 

1 Harcourt s assistant. 

2 Incorporated as Harcourt, Brace and Howe, July 29, 1919. 


who can give us a hook-in on school book business. He brings some 
capital, but so many fine books are showing up that I think we shall need 
all we can get. Do you really want to put some money in? We ll give you 
preferred stock with at least 6% dividends guaranteed. I don t think we 
will need it until late in the fall, but of course we want to know what we 
can count on. Now be absolutely frank about this. 

Do you know Free Air is making a hit? My neighbors and their 
wives are saying it is one of the most interesting and refreshing things 
they have seen in the S. E. P. (Saturday Evening Post) for some time, 
and people in the trade are talking about it. Brace hears the same report. 
You have heard from Bobbs-Merrill and probably from a good many 
other directions. At any rate, set yourself down and, with all the skill 
you can muster, write to Henry Holt and Company (our correspondence 
is in their files) explaining, if you wish, how you came there because of 
personal relations with me, and ask them to let you have the Free Air 
contract back. I think you will get it all right. You might address E. N. 
Bristol 1 direct. 

Things look rosy to an unbelievable degree. We re off in a cloud 
of dust! 

Ever yours, 

Mankato, June 16 
Dear Alf: 

Here s a carbon of a letter from me to Holt Co. Main Street goes 
apace (none of your biz what pace). Doing nothing else, and really am 
under way. Got an office address yet? 



Mankato, June 15 
Dear Mr. Holt: 2 

I wonder if I can, without impairing our good personal relations, ask 
for the return of the contract on my book Free Air? 

There are two disconnected reasons. First-as I wrote to Harcourt 
long before there was the slightest hint of his severing connections with 
Henry Holt and Company you ll find the letter in the files when I 

1 Vice president and treasurer of Henry Holt and Company. 

2 Roland Holt, son of founder and president of Henry Holt and Company, and 
vice president of the company. 

[1919] 5 

started to work to add to the ms to bring it from the present serial length 
of 56,000 words to a length suitable for book publication, I found that it 
would be such a long job that I cdn t with the work already in hand, do 
it till sometime next year. And in its present short form it hasn t quite 
the dignity I want in my next book. Now as other tasks may keep com 
ing in and preventing my properly enlarging and developing the book, 
I don t like to have a contract for it out, even with the understanding 
that it s not to be published till I do properly complete the work. 

Second, despite my long and hearty respect for the Company and 
my personal liking for you and others, yet after all Harcourt has always 
been the man in the firm whom I have best known and with whom I have 
done business, as book reviewer and fellow publisher and author, and 
while I don t know what his plans are, I want to be loyal to him and 
stick by him. 

I understand that one of the fundamental principles of the Company 
has been to hold authors by their own desire rather than by the semi- 
compulsion of contracts, so I put this directly to you, and hope that you 
will see it in the decidedly friendly light in which I see it. 

I am here in this Minnesota town for the summer and I like it; like 
the friendliness, the neighborliness, and the glorious sweeps of country 
round about. 

Sincerely yours, 
Sinclair Lewis 

Mankato, June 19 
Dear Alf : 

I like the name The Harcourt Company better than Harcourt, Howe 
and Brace, just because it s shorter, but the other is good too. Just how 
much time can I have before I decide about taking some stock? I certainly 
would like some, but of course just now my problem is that I m writing 
Main Street and living on what I have ahead, and as I can t tell how long 
it will take me I don t dare to invest and risk having to go back to short 
stories before I want to. I certainly ought to have some ahead next fall, 
but don t know now, so don t like to promise. I also don t know yet about 
the musical comedy version of Hobohemm 1 when Smith 2 will finish it 
and get it on. If I got a wad out of that, I d like to put it into your 
business a real investment. 

1 Lewis s first play, a satire on life in Greenwich Village, produced in New York 
February 8, 1919. 

2 Harry Bache Smith. Librettist who collaborated at different times with Victor 
Herbert, Irving Berlin, and others. 


Free Air seems to be making a great hit here too, but I still suspect 
that it d be wise to put it off till after Main St. Before getting your letter 
I d written to Roland Holt; if I don t hear satisfactorily from him, I ll 
write to Bristol, as you suggest. GOOD LUCK! 

As ever, 

Mount Vcrnon, N.Y, 
June 23 
Dear Slewis: 

I raise my two-year-old Panama to the letter you wrote Henry Holt 
and Company. You wrote before you received mine suggesting such a 
letter, and I am glad because the letter couldn t have been improved upon. 
It might have been less good because of some hang-over from my letter. 
We ll treasure it as a model. 

I arranged with Gaston Saturday morning for a book on the Non- 
partisan League. 1 He is getting right at it. Things are coming along 
unbelievably well for us in every direction, 

Ever yours, 

In care of Tobcy and Co. 
5 West 5oth St., New York 
June 27 
Dear Slewis: 

Don t tear your shirt about capital We have enough to turn over on. 
We should not need any from you until late fall or the first of the year. 
It could be left that if you do want to put money into our business and 
with the money conveniently in hand, we should be delighted to have you 
in to the extent and in the fashion that will make you feel most comfort 

I keep hearing about Free Air, and my hunch is that if we let that 
wait a year or so, it is going to be pretty stale and that the impetus which 
the enjoyment of the serial has created will be lost, Don tells me they have 
sent your contract back from Holt s. What I really wish you would do is 
to get Free Air into the best shape you can by the first of August and let 
us make a book of it. You ought to make up your mind about this right 
off and perhaps let us have a telegram, as we have to make a fall list by 
i The Nonpartisan League by Herbert E. Gaston, HB&Co,, 1920. 

[1919] 7 

the first of next week. If you do take my point of view, very shortly after 
you have sent the telegram, mail us a description. Also send us the first 
chapter or two to make a dummy. Then we can get advance orders this 
summer. Gehrs 1 is going to stay at Holt s until the first of October, but 
we have made arrangements whereby he can sell our fall line on his sum 
mer trip for them-and I am afraid our line will get all the emphasis to 
which it is entitled! 

I am sending you a copy of the results of our last week s activities. 
We are getting a book or two a day and all first-class ones. That is, we 
are going off with a bang. We have no quarters yet, but we have a tem 
porary place at 5 West 5oth St. which I hope we can make permanent. 
The lawyers are working on the incorporation, and in a week or ten days 
we shall be all set and going. 

As ever, 

Mankato, June 30 
Dear Alf: 

In answer to your letter I wired you I ll finish Free Air for book in 
two or three weeks. I m sending you today the first 166 pages, all ready 
to print, so that you can not only make a dummy but really start setting. 

Go ahead and make up a contract when you are ready no hurry. I 
do NOT want an advance. But equally, you don t get anything on movie 
rights I have a wire from Brandt 2 saying Famous Players offer $3000 
for movie rights. 

I ve tried to make a resume of the story, without success. I enclose 
my abortive attempt. I hate writing abt 8 my own stuff did too much of 
it at Doran s. 

Getting lots of good letters about the story, praising it heavily. It 
should be especially pushed in Minn, NDakota, Montana, Washington. 
Here s an idea for an ad; 

Whenever you see the sign 


before a garage think of 
the one book that makes motoring romantic 


1 August H. Gehrs, sales manager of the new firm, 

2 Carl Brandt, New York literary agent. 

8 Lewis often used this form of telegraphese," dropping vowels from words, and 
it has been retained throughout. 


Or something like that. We ought, somehow, to be able to take advantage 
of the publicity implied in all the tens of thousands Free Air signs before 
garages and filling-stations. 

Oughtn t the book to have four or five charming illustrations: I 
think Arthur William Brown or Dean Cornwell would do em better than 
Gruger did in the Post; still, Gruger s were pretty good, and we cd prob 
ably get em from the Post cheaply. 

As ever, 

Mankato, July 3 
Dear Alf: 

Hard at work on end of Free Air 7 and it s going fine. If Louise Bryant, 
wife of Jack Reed and my good friend, comes to see you, be extra nice to 
her and buy her a Oh gosh, you can t, even 2.75%. 


Mankato, July 14 
Dear Alf: 

Miss Eayrs asks me to send her the original Free Air Holt contract, 
for use in making new one. Two changes arc that you are NOT to pay me 
an advance, and that you don t get anything on movie rights. You can 
come in on dramatic rights. There won t be none! 

I ve received check for Free Air movie, and I can now, if you want 
to monkey with so small a sum, invest $2000 in the firm. That s all I d 
better venture now. Later in the year I may be able to increase that 
considerably. No way of telling. But I d sure be glad to invest the two 
thousand now, if you d like. 

Ought to have the new part of the book done, but between heat and 
long continued plugging I got so tired that I laid off for a week and took 
my dad on the long motor trip I told you about he enjoyed it enor 
mously; saw the places he knew as a kid but hasn t seen for from 30 to 50 
years. Now I m back on the job and will hustle the end of the book thru. 

I wonder if you can work any publicity in combination with the 
movie production of Free Air? Ought to be something good in it It s 
been bought by Famous Players-Carl Brandt can probably tell you who 
is doing their publicity. They ll probably be pushing the picture at just 
about the time of publication of the book. 

Sinclair Lems 

[1919] 9 

Tell Miss Eayrs to quit working so hard. I know her! 

Why don t you try to buy rights to earlier books from Hoyns? 1 No 

further word from him since the last letter I sent you. 

5 West 5 oth St., N.Y. 

~ T . 

Dear Lewis: 

Now that we know the length of Free Air, Brace has sent it to the 
printer; meantime we have used the serial version to have a jacket made 
that is a wonder. 

I am so glad you had that trip with your father. The year before my 
dad died, we drove to Niagara Falls and back, and it s a rare and dear 

We would really like very much to have your $2000 in the business. 
Our articles of incorporation go to Albany Monday, and we shall be ready 
to issue stock as soon as it can be printed. You had better keep the money 
in your bank until I write you that the stock is ready to exchange for it. 
I believe and hope it will be a good investment for you. 

We have found offices after tramping all over this town at i West 
47th St., the first floor and basement in a nice old private house, and you 
will never have a warmer welcome anywhere, except in your own home, 
than when you come to see us there. I think we shall have an extra room 
upstairs with a bed in it for such wandering wayfarers as you, so don t go 
to a hotel the next time you come to town until you have found out if we 
haven t a comfortable place for you. 

You know I sort of expect a killing for Free Air. We are going out 
for one, anyway. 


Mankato, July 22 
Dear Alf: 

Til be sending the rest of Free Air to you in less than a week. I think 
the new stuff is more than up to the rest of it, and it s in no sense padding. 
In fact, when I originally planned it, I d intended to have in all this Seattle 
matter, then stopped short because I didn t want to make my first Post 
serial too long. Grace 2 says it s the best part of the story. 

1 Henry Hoyns of Harper and Brothers, publishers of Lewis s earlier novels, Our 
Mr. Wrenn, The Trail of the Hawk, The fob, The Innocents. 

2 Grace Livingston Hegger and Lewis were married at the Ethical Culture 
Church, New York, on April 15, 1914. 


In view of this, of the fact that I ve added almost 30,000 words 
nearly doubled the story it s important for your salesman in talking to 
book dealers to emphasize that only about half the story appeared in the 
serial. And how about putting that on the jacket? Or is it better not to 
admit on the jacket that it has appeared as a serial? If such an admission is 
made, there should certainly be a good note about the new half Milt up 
against city social complications the small-town garage man going to the 
opera in his first evening clothes. Think that over for jacket note, and 
use or not as seems best to you. It might do something to counteract the 
bad effect of Post serialization, and mite be so worded that those who 
liked it in the Post will get the book. It might also go into a literary note, 

Glad you ve found offices, and many thanks for your warm welcome 
to them. 


Here s a true literary note. I ve heard of several people who arc now 
driving from Middlewest to the Pacific Coast because of reading Free Air. 

Mankato, July 25 
Dear Alf : 

Next Thursday, July 31, just after mailing you the end of Free Air, 
Grace and I are going to start motoring East. If you should need to get 
hold of me before I go, you could telegraph me. I don t know of anything 
you ll need to wire me about, however, and I ll reach the East sometime 
after the middle of August. 

We re going to spend the winter in the East just where, we don t 
know yet We ll look for a house on the way. It probably won t be more 
than a hundred or a hundred and fifty miles from NY. We re going to 
look at West Chester, Pa., where Hergesheimcr lives. 


So that I ll be sure to have it in to you, I m enclosing the check for 
two thousand for stock. Yea, I ll trust you, even tho I know your weak 
ness for large lunches. You can have some stock made out in my name, 
and HOLD the stock. 


I don t know when you plan to issue Free Air, so I don t know 
whether I ll be East early enough to read proofs you can t coimt on me 
to do it till after September ist. Do NOT hold up the book. If someone 
reads-proofs fgr me* have them change the population of Gopher Prairie 
(the first town where Claire stops for the night) to make it agree with 

[ 1919] 11 

Main Street. When I read proof for the Sat Even Post, I transferred those 
corrections to the book ms, and that will help some tho of course Brer 
Author can always find some new changes. 

I would wait here for the proofs, but I m all in been grinding too 
long and hard, need a vacation bad, and it s a good stunt to use it in this 
Eastern trip, as we ll be going East anyway. We plan (unless it gets too 
hot) to go down thru Tennessee and Virginia, so it ll be quite a trip. By 
the way, if they want to go, I ll take Father and Mother at least as far as 



I ll have some new photos taken when I get East, and there ought to 
be some bully snapshots along the road, peculiarly appropriate to Free Air 

Think over the use of the "When you see a Free Air sign in front of 
a gas station, thing of the one book that," etc. and the plan of having ads 
in the motoring and sporting journals, and maybe an inch or two or three 

in the S.E.P. 


(Lewis sent in at this time a remarkably complete list of the most impor 
tant American critics, newspapers cmd magazines carrying book reviews.) 

I can t think of anything else to insult you with this is my last shot 
at you (giving you a chance to reply, at least) before I hit the road. But 
don t wire me, "You poor fish, don t you suppose I know a little about 
the publishing business?" I ll assume that answer, and save money for 
. , . my firm! 

Back to work copying the bloomink book. 

As ever, 
S Lewis 

i West 47th Street, N.Y. 
July 28 
Dear Mr. Lewis: 

Mr. Harcourt and I moved to this address x last Monday. We spent 
one week in a tiny cubby-hole in the basement, encircled with piles of 
trash and paint pails. From where we sat, we could see legs descending the 
stairs to call upon us; after a time sufficiently long to guess at the owners 
of the legs, a head would appear. We entertained a lot of distinguished 

1 These were the first quarters of Harcourt, Brace and Howe, and this letter was 
written the day before the firm was formally incorporated. 


visitors; even Mr. Ellery Sedgwick s x legs called upon us, and he was 
impressed-how he didn t say. This morning we moved to a lovely room 
on the third floor where we shall be until the first of October, After that 
we shall all be in our rightful quarters on the first floor. The explanation 
of all this is that Mr. Harcourt has taken the first floor and basement of 
an old red brick house; he could get the basement at once, and the first 
floor on October first, so for the sake of being at the permanent address, 
we are going to be in this house. He will write you fully about all this as 
soon as he has time. I write this so that you shall be in on the first struggles 
of a poor but honest young man! 

Sincerely yours, 
Ellen Eayrs 

July 28 
Dear Lewis: 

I think you will get this reply to your good letter of the 25th before 
you leave. I am glad you are taking the trip. It will do both of you a 
world of good. I ve sold the Oldsmobile and bought a Ford. The latter is 
cheaper to run. The new car came yesterday, and it was fun finding all 
the grease cups. 

I hereby acknowledge the check for $2000. We cannot issue stock 
to you until you sign our stock book in person. We ll have it all ready 
for you when you come in. 

I hope you won t be disappointed when I tell you that the book will 
not be illustrated. With present costs of manufacture, the book would 
have to be $1.75 instead of $1.60. Gruger s drawings were not good, and 
the other people were not within reach for a hurry-up job, and I d rather 
have the $500 for extra advertising, window display posters, etc. 

When you get East, find out whether my house is vacant or not be 
fore you camp out here. Sue and Hastings 2 are going up to Dorothy 
Canfield s 8 for six weeks or two months after the i5th of August. I have 
asked Howe if he wants it when he comes on about the i5th; I have not 
heard from him, and it may be that I shall be there alone, and you can 
put your car in the garage and the baby in Hastings s room etc* I am very 
glad you are going to be East this winter. No time for more now. I envy 
you the trip and the good time. 

Ever yours, 

1 Editor of the Atlantic Monthly. 8 At Arlington, Vermont. 

2 Harcourt s wife and son. 

[1919] 13 

Lewis and his *wife drove East by way of Tennessee and Virginia) stop 
ping off to see James Branch Cabell in Virginia. They arrived at West 
Chester, Pennsylvania, on August 

c/o Joseph Hergesheimer 
West Chester, Pa. 
Wednesday, September 3 
Dear Alf : 

As I telephoned you from Phila yesterday, the whole business of the 
serial publication of the end of the book is unusual I was at Lorimer s, 1 
and when he asked me what the deuce I d been doing all these weeks, 
and I told him, he, not I, suggested my showing him the new parthence 
the hasty wire to you. He immediately accepted it, with enthusiasm, and 
it seemed criminal to miss the good money in hand. But I was more wor 
ried than you will believe about the matter of book publication. As a 
matter of fact, with the difficulties of make-up, I was afraid that he d 
demand a postponement of publication till way into November; was 
afraid I might have to refuse the serial publication. When I saw him 
yesterday, I went into that first of all, and I think he s more than decent 
to rush it through so soon. 

But of course that doesn t help you any. I wonder if this will be of 
any valuelet the bookdealers know, by word of mouth thru Gehrs, 
what is the exact truth that Lorimer liked the new part so much he 
simply had to have it, which certainly ought to increase their interest 
in it. Let them know that a lot of readers have been clamoring for more 
Free Air, and they get it in the book. Something like that? 

This new part will be published (in the Post) under the title Danger 
Rtm Slow. Lorimer gives October 20 definitely as the release date. He s 
not even setting galley proofs but getting it right into pages. 

I hope to God this works out all right. I think I ve given enough 
previous proofs of my interest in your success so you may be sure that, 
while craftily grabbing off this money, I also devote a whole lot of 
thought and worry to you, and hope and pray that I haven t been either 
inconsiderate or foolish in this. 

I wonder if some time I can t get Lorimer and you together. I can t 
tell you how much I admire Lorimer, both for his ability and his incred 
ible niceness in his dealings with authors. 

We have a house here, but we don t get into it till about the 1 5th. 
Meantime we re at a hotel, but you can address me care of Hergesheimer. 

I m terribly disappointed in the pictures we got on the trip. The 
ones I m sending are the best. With them are some pictures of James 
1 George Horace Lorimer. Editor-in-chief of the Saturday Evening Post. 


Branch Cabell and myself, taken in the Virginia mountains. His new book 
Jurgen will be published by McBride this fall. 

As ever, 
Sinclair Lewis 

September 5 
Dear Lewis: 

We are so infernally busy that I haven t time to clo more than ac 
knowledge yours of September 3rd. It is only truthful to say that we hate 
to postpone Free Air, but there is comfort enough in knowing that it is 
a favor to you and in having our enthusiasm confirmed by Lorimcr s mak 
ing two sei ials of one story and thinking so much of the ending that he is 
standing on his head to get it into the Post. Of course booksellers will be 
afraid that complete serialization in the Post will blanket the market, and 
this may affect advance orders, but I don t believe it will affect the total 
sale. Good luck always! 

Ever yours, 

Burlington Hotel 

Washington, IXC. 

Dear Alf : 

Fve been down here house-hunting (with not much success yet), 
We decided that West Chester would bore us and Washington we like 
tremendously. Don t know when we ll be where, but chances are well be 
here at the Burlington for several days to come. 


1814 1 6th Street, N.W. 
Washington, D.C 
Dear Alf: 

Above is our new address-and we really will keep that one all 
winter! Even after an arduous week of house-hunting, we adore Wash 
ington-it has all the stimulus that we found little gray West Chester to 
lack, yet also a clean quietude that New York lacks. We have a small but 
comfortable house, into which we move next Friday. 

[ 1919] 15 

If Howe has come, give him my greetings, please. 

Sinclair Lews 

September 25 
Dear Lewis: 

It is good to think of you as settled in Washington, The advertising 
suggestions are good. Send more along as they occur to you. I don t agree, 
however, about advertising in motor journals. I think we can get a good 
deal of free publicity from that crowd, but when people look at those 
journals, they are looking for accessories, not books. We want to give 
away copies liberally in that field. 

It looks as if the 8000 copies we are having bound will just fill the 
advance orders and leave us enough to see how the cat is going to jump. 
Not bad, I think. 

Ever yours, 

Washington, October 6 
Dear Alf: 

Your catalogue came this morning, and I think that it is remarkably 
impressive, especially for a first one. It ought to make an interesting stir. 

There is just one criticism, but I think that is important. And it s my 
fault, seeing that it s based on something I did. . . . The Free Air de 
scription sounds too much as though this were a typical Munsey-Popular 
Magazine outdoor adventure romance. It seems to me the line we must 
stress is that here is romance with dignity and realism that Milt, in his 
garage, in his adventuring, is as true to life as though this were a drab 
story of manners instead of a romance. And there is no hint of the Seattle 
experiences one who had read the first part in the Post would have no 
way of knowing there was anything in the book not found in that first 
part in the magazine. 

Please PLKASE think very carefully about giving the keynote of the 
book in future ads and descriptions, so that it may stand out from the 
typical Zane Grey ads. 

As ever, 

Sinclair Lewis 

P.S. Send me 20 copies of Free Air as soon as you have them. I shall use 
several for furtherance of selling. 


October 7 
Dear Lewis: 

Thanks for your recent letters. I have been just too busy to answer 
them. This thing is growing like the green bay tree. You know the first 
of the quotation. Don and I have been here until 10: 30 almost every night. 

Twenty copies of Free Air have been sent to you, We have sent 
copies with a special note from me to Harry Korncr and John Kiclcl. 1 
We sent out about 1 30 to sales people, and on most of those either Gchrs 
or I wrote a personal word. Be dead sure you don t give any of the 20 
copies to anybody who will go into a bookstore before the 23rd of Octo 
ber and say "The book is published; I know it is published; I ve seen a 
copy" etc. I d really rather you kept them under your pillow until the 
1 8th, Advance copies outside of the trade raise the very dickens some 

Haven t heard a word from Hoyns, I ought to run into him at a 
Publishers Luncheon soon. 

We re putting another 3000 Free Air to press. Have orders for 5200 
without Baker & Taylor or N.Y.Qty except Amer News which takes 
1000. Expect advance of 8-9000. 


October 20 
Dear Lewis: 

Free Air looks so promising that I m going to suggest a joint gamble, 
We are spending (besides $500 on window displays, dealers letters, etc.) 
$1000 (10^ a copy on the first 10,000) in regular advertising to give it an 
initial push. Do you want to say you will accept a 10% royalty on the 
first 10,000 if we will spend the 5% you forego on a further splurge in 
advertising and also spend a like sum ourselves? If you want to say you ll 
make it 10% to 15,000 we will, as soon as we ve sold 10,000 outright, 
appropriate a further $1000 to keep up the push. Now, do just as you 
please about this. I think it will pay us both. We may get this book over 
into really large figures; every copy we sell now starts talk and means 
that many more advance orders for Main Street. I d like to spend a con 
siderable part of the extra money on Chicago and the West, 

Let me know how this strikes you. I ought to hear almost by return 
mail, for it looks as if I d sail for London on the 28th and there is much 
to do. 

Yours ever, 

1 Cleveland and Qncinnati booksellers. 

[1919] 17 

Washington, October 22 Wednesday 
Dear Alf : 

I received your letter at 7:30 this morning, and about 9:30 tele 
graphed, "Yes, gladly agree to reduction to 10% up to 15,000 copies for 
extra advertising appropriation." In other words I quite agree with all the 
suggestions in your letter that I forego 5% of royalty, on condition that 
it be used, with a like sum supplied by you, for further advertising; and 
I agree to do so not only on the first 10,000, but on the 5000 after that. 
And maybe laterwe ll see. 

As you say, it will be well to use some of this new fund on adver 
tising west of Chicago particularly, I should think, in Minneapolis, St. 
Paul, and Seattle, 

Let me know anything else I can do, and if there s a quick answer 
necessary, Til telegraph. I don t suppose there s any necessity of our get 
ting together before you go away, and I have no plans to visit New York 
for Gawd knows how long, but if you should really need to see me, I can 
always be in NY in five or six hours. 

It may be that, before you ever get Main Street, you ll have another 
novel of mine that ought to have twice the sale of Free Air, but will be in 
some degree of the same general character the story of a young couple 
bucking society in a city like Minneapolis; a story of that never yet 
adequately described but extremely important phase of American life 
middle-class existence in an American cross between town and city, in 
Minneapolis, Omaha, Binghamton, and all the rest. I am planning such a 
story, with a lot of drama and unexpectedness but also complete reality, 
as a serial for Sat Even Post, and I may do it before I go on with Main St 
which will almost certainly NOT go as a serial. I may call the new story 
either Cobra in the Dark or The Dark Alley. Do you like either title? 

I think that s all! 

As ever, 

October 23 
Dear Lewis: 

Thanks very much, old man, for your telegram and your letter falling 
in so heartily with our plans. I have real hopes they will pay us both. We 
are attempting to follow every suggestion you are making and others 
which occur to us. Spingarn 1 has the matter in hand, and he and Miss 
Eayrs will follow it up, as I expect to sail on the Adriatic Saturday noon. 

1 J, E. Spingarn (later referred to as Joel or JES) . Author and critic and a direc 
tor of the new firm. 


Send suggestions just as freely to them as you would to me. I have gone 
over the whole scheme with Spingarn and it will sail smoothly. Good 

I like the novel which may precede Main Street except that I don t 
like either of your titles. 

Sincerely yours, 

Washington, November 2 
Dear Mr. Spingarn: 

Let me take this opportunity to greet you and to express my pleasure 
in having heard from Harcourt that you are on the bridge while he is 
away. ... As it s he who s on the ocean that seems to be a rotten meta 
phor, but metaphors we must have, at all cost. 
Let rne know anything I can do. 

Sincerely yours, 
Sinclair Lewis 

Washington, November i 2 
Dear Ellen: 

You re a corker to take all the trouble with Free Air and to write me 
the family details about the firm. I enormously like hearing them all of 
them. I hope I m not overdoing suggestions about publicityI shall al 
ways expect you or A.H. firmly to turn down any you don t like. 

Note the underlined lines in the enclosed clipping. Would it be 
perfectly insane and egotistic to suggest that you or Mr. Spingarn send a 
copy of the book to the prize committee, suggesting that the dern thing 
is a study in "the wholesome atmosphere of American life" etc.? 1 I think 
a letter with the book would be necessary, in order that the committee 
might not hastily conclude as some reviewers seem to be concluding 
that because it is a romance with a motor car, therefore it has no serious 
study of factualities. Please don t follow this up unless it seems advisable. 
It would be a gamble in any case. 

As ever, 

During Harcourfs absence in Europe, Lewis corresponded with the office 
from Washington about details concerning the publication of Free Air. 
1 Lewis was referring to the Pulitzer Prize Committee. 

[1919] 19 

Washington, Monday, December 1 5 
Dear Alf : 

You ought to be getting back to the office at about the time of the 
arrival of this letter, so its purpose is both to welcome you back and to 
give you some news. I have now written about 70,000 words of Main 
Street and am going right ahead with it, instead of doing the dangerous 
thing of again putting it off while I write a Post serial! I have no idea that 
it will make a serial, and I have every hope that it will be ready for 
publication in the spring certainly for early fall, possibly last week in 
August. You mustn t suppose that 70,000 means it s almost done though. 
I m afraid I shall be doing well (there s such an enormous and complicated 
field to cover) if I keep it down to 1 80,000 words, even after cutting first 
draft. But I ll keep it down as much as I can. 

If it takes long enough, I may have to stop once or twice to write 
short stories for the Post, but if so, I ll go right on again. Whether it s 
good or not of course I can t tell, but there is this fact usually indicative 
of some excellence: I m enormously enjoying writing it, and unusually 
interested in itindeed I m not thinking of much else. 

Not only have I written 70,000, but also, for a starter, I have rewrit 
ten all of the 30,000 words I had written last summer before I broke off 
to finish Free Air, and I know the new version is much better. It will be 
a great deal better than The Job and I hope that it will give you the 
chance for a big campaign and perhaps a big sale. (Tho I don t expect it 
to sell to lovers of Harold Bell Wright. It s pretty out-and-out.) 

How does the Free Air situation frame up, now that Xmas is ap 
proaching? Do you feel anything like satisfied with the sale? I am more 
than satisfied with your efforts and Miss Eayrs s and those of all the rest, 
and my only reaction to the whole thing is a hope that you have made 
some money on it and that it forms a good introduction to Main Street. 

There is one thing we must keep in mind from the first: Whether 
because Free Air came out in the Post, or because of the wording of the 
advertisements, or the wording of the jacket, almost all reviewers (the 
NYTimes almost the only exception) have concluded that not only is this 
merely a light adventure novel, but that it lacks all f actuality, all "serious 
ness"; so they have not bothered to read it at all, but, god damn them, 
have merely given fake reviews. This feeling of theirs must NOT extend to 
Main Street. We must be very careful about ads, advance notices, jacket 
note,* everything, or we shall have them not reading the book. And yet, 
same time, we mustn t in those descriptions of the book convey the im 
pression that it is too heavy and lugubrious and "highbrow." I think one 
thing we might do is to send a letter to about a dozen reviewers (Francis 
Hackett, Mencken, Burton Rascoe, etc.) telling them frankly that we 


know Free Air and Innocents were light, but in Main Street this brilliant 
young author far beats his justly celebrated The Job, etc. I have such a 
letter ready, and we might send it out a month in advance of publication 
to a carefully culled list. 

I give this long drool so far in advance that we may all be prepared. 
I ll NEVER do a novel more carefully planned and thought out and more 
eagerly written than Main Street^ and I hope to see it go for years, as 
Jem-Christophe goes. If it does, it will be fine for all of us. So let s not 
spare any pains and an important part of this will be planning the key 
note of all ads, announcements, etc. 

You could, if you wanted, begin to let hints of the coming chef 
duffer leak out any time, now that the novel s so well under way. And 
now, with apologies for so long a letter so soon after your return, back 
to writing the novel! 

As ever, 

Sinclair Lewis 

* Fll be glad to write as many of these as you want, tho I couldn t with 
Free Air. 

December 17 
Dear Lewis: 

The fact that I have just read your letter of the *5th to Alf is respon 
sible for starting me on this letter. I know Miss Eayrs has been giving you 
the news, and I have been so busy since Alf has been away that I have not 
had a chance to do anything I didn t absolutely have to, Free Air is not 
doing what we hoped it would* I cannot see that we have done or left 
undone anything that would be responsible for this, and the thing that 
comes back to us from every source is the Post serialization, especially 
the second one. We have sold about 8000 copies. I am sure we have done 
everything we can before Christmas, and we shall see what more we can 
do after. 

I am delighted that you are getting along so well with Main Street. 
Alf is on the Baltic which should have been in yesterday, but will prob 
ably not be here until tomorrow or Friday. Of course he will write you 
as soon as he gets a chance after his return. 

Sincerely yours, 

December 22 
Dear Lewis: 

This is just a stop-gap, Merry Christmas note to say that I got home 
Saturday, after a wild voyage of two weeks, with a trunkful of new 

[1919] 21 

books. The Britishers opened their arms to the new business in a way that 
astonished me. 

Of course the best part of your letter is that you are really at work 
on Main Street, and you are dead right in what you say about the atmos 
phere in which the book must be launched. I think the most important 
element in creating that atmosphere is that it shall not be serialized in the 
Post. I don t know the details of what has happened to Free Air. It hasn t 
done all that we hoped for, but on the other hand there is a re-order for 
50 copies from Los Angeles in the mail this morning. 

No time for more today. Aren t you going to get up here before 

Ever yours, 

Washington, December 24 
Dear Alf: 

Much merry Christmas and a great New Year. You betMain Street 
will NOT be serialized in the Post; almost certainly it will not be serialized 
in ANY magazine. I don t think I shall even send a copy to any magazine 
for consideration. I m booming ahead with it, tho I ve had to stop for 
about a week because my father and mother are here, on their way to 
Florida. December 26 I ll be into it again. 

Harry B. Smith is at last making the musical comedy out of Hobo- 
hemiaTvQ seen the first act, and it ought to go. There ought to be a little 
money to back me while I do novels. It s a joy not to be writing for 
magazines always. 

About Free Air: my only hope is that its not going big will not dis 
courage you. You remember that at first I advised against its publication 
in book form at all. While I m not, of course, entirely indifferent to it, 
all my thoughts and planning are centered in Main Street which may, 
perhaps, be the real beginning of my career as a writer. 

I wonder if about six months before the novel is to come outwhen 
you have the msit might not begin to create great interest to publish an 
advance announcementnot as a publicity note but as an ad, in Times, 
Tribune, Boston Transcript, Pub Weekly and one or two others. Say it s 
to come out August 25 of next yearpublish on March 15 or April 15 
just a one- or two-inch ad in each paper to the effect that: 

Harcourt, Brace and Howe announce that five months from now, on August 
25, they will publish a novel of extraordinary importance as a realistic picture 
of American life Main Street by Sinclair Lewis. (The book will not appear 
as a magazine serial.) 


(Only probably flash up the title more get it fixed in people s minds so 
that they will be ready, and possibly eager, for it. If you get any reaction, 
republish it once a month.) 
Or, more simply: 


Sinclair Lewis 

will be published next August. 
A book of importance a genuinely 
realistic picture of American life. 

I don t think this long-advance announcement has ever been done and 
ought to affect book-dealers & readers. 

Look, Alf, and heed. Through all my letters, the next few months, 
there will probably be suggestions, sometimes just one sentence, for Main 
Street publicity, etc. Why don t you have all of the suggestions of any 
possible importance copied and kept together, for future use. OTHERWISE 
THEY RE ALMOST CERTAIN TO GET LOST, and to be forgotten by both you 
and meand it ll be a bore, later, to have to dig them out of the files. 

I hope to God you have made at least a little money out of Free Air. 
Don t worry about me. 

And now on with the job (I m stealing two hours from showing 
Dad about, today) and a Great New Year for All of Us, and a hell of a 
success for all of us with Main St and everything else. My very best to 
your wife, the boy, Ellen, Don, Gus, and all 

As ever, 


P.S.: I ll be glad to make a contract on Main St so that I put part of my 
royalty into advertising (possibly up to 25,000 copies), as on Free Air. 

January 13 
Dear Lewis: 

We have been and are as busy as can be with some 50 books (mighty 
few lemons in the lot too) to publish by the first of April. We ll have a 
list of them off to you soon. You bet we ll keep all your Main Street 
suggestions together. Sure, we have made some money out of Free Air, 
and I think you will have something over a thousand dollars coming to 
you out of it. 

I have just read Jurgen. It s a humdinger; the man gets away with 
murder, but it s as able a job as I ve seen for a long time. I think you arc 
by way of knowing the author pretty well. Is he our sort, and are we 

[1920] 23 

his n? I don t think the chances are in favor of his being comfortable 
where he is very long. If you haven t read Jurgen, please stop and do it 
before you do anything more about it; if you have and decide to get 
after Cabell in our behalf, go to it. 

Ever yours, 

Washington, Thursday 
Dear Alf: 

Here s a copy of the letter I am sending today to Cabell. Yes, I have 
read Jurgen, and admire it enormously. In the last Nation is an ad quoting 
me about it. Yes, you would like Cabell, very much. 

Working hard on Main Street and doing nothing else. Going to be 
one grand book. I should think we might plan it for very early next fall. 
Probably won t have it done till April anyway, too late for spring 

I wonder if we couldn t sell some Free Air s in the spring, late spring, 
when people are thinking about and planning coming motor tours? Would 
it be worth while to advertise it then as the one guide and inspiration for 
such trips? These recent motor articles of mine in the Post (three of 
them, called "Adventures in Automobumming") have aroused consider 
able attention and brought me a lot of letters. See them? Pictures of me. 

Regards to Don and Ellen and Gus and the several Harcourts. 



Washington, January 1 5 
My dear Cabell: 

I heard from Alfred Harcourt of Harcourt, Brace and Howe, lately, 
and I find that he is extremely interested in Jurgen. If you ever get in the 
least dissatisfied with McBride, I do wish you would think of Harcourt as 
your publisher. As I told you last summer, I chose him from among a lot 
of publishers who were after Free Air because, though at that time the 
firm wasn t yet really in existence at all, I have known Harcourt long and 
intimately. When he was general manager at Holt, I saw him, at different 
times, from the standpoint of author, book reviewer, and fellow publisher, 
and in each capacity I had more admiration for him than for any other 
publisher in the country. 

He is a remarkable combination of sound business man and sound 
critic, and he does not seem to be afraid to advertise booksor to keep on 


continuing to push them even at that time when the ink on their pages is 
beginning to dry, and, therefore, most publishers hate to go on selling 

His partners are also extremely able, and I hear that he is going to 
have a splendid list this spring. As he is still young in the game, and as he 
seems to believe in you, he would be an awfully good man to be con 
nected with. Won t you think him over seriously? Of course I know 
nothing of your relations with McBride, but if they arc at all unsatisfac 
tory, why don t you write to Harcourt and see what he will say? I d like 
to have you captured by the same firm which holds me in amiable serf 

As ever, 
Sinclair Lewis 

February 6 
Dear Lewis: 

I have been going over the figures of the money we spent in adver 
tising Free Air to determine the exact number of copies on which we 
were to pay you a royalty of 10%. As so much of it was spent with 
dealers on a fifty-fifty basis some of them sent us bills, and some of them 
deducted the amount from their remittances it is a very considerable 
task. I am convinced that it would save us a couple of days work and 
considerable correspondence, and save you twenty-five or thirty dollars, 
if we agreed to pay you 10% on all we sold last year and 15% on sales 
beginning January first. Will you be satisfied with this rough-and-ready 
approximation, or are you curious to have us make a complete report? 
I hope you aren t. 

I am spending a little money on it now in Chicago. We are getting 
re-orders from the Middle West, and now that the travelers are out there, 
there may be a considerable revival. 

I enclose our spring list which I think will stir you. It is weak on 
fiction, but next fall we shall have Main Street, a new Dorothy Canfield 
novel, 1 an Elias Tobenkin, 2 and four bang-up English novels at least- The 
Keynes book 8 is selling like the dickens, We printed and bound 4000. 
These are all gone and now we are selling them faster than we can print 

Ever yours, 

1 The Brimming Cup, but not published until March 1921, 

2 The Road, published January 1922, 

8 John Maynard Keynes: Economic Consequences of the Peace, January 1920. 

[1920] 25 

Washington, February 8 
Dear Alf : 

A year ago today, first night of Hobohemia, and you and I went! 

Sure: I quite agree to the approximation of which you write 10% 
to Jan. ist, and 15% for this year. Don t take time to figure it all out & 
make complete report. 

Aren t I the darndest best author to deal with? But it s all camouflage 
so that I can be frightfully emotional and demanding over Main Street by 
and by. My hope is that you re going to have that for your big book for 
next fall, and possibly as a big seller for some seasons after. I believe that 
it will be the real beginning of my writing. No book and no number 
of short stories I ve ever done have ever meant a quarter of what this 
does to me. I m working on it 24 hours a day whether Fm writing or 

Grand spring list. Great beginning, old man! Saw Heywood Broun 
down here last night, and told him what a grand publisher you are. I agree 
with him, and against you, about the title of his book; Seeing Things at 
Night has more charm to it than Things Seen at Night. 1 - I m sicking Fred 
Howe onto you with a new book he s writing. 2 If you two get together, 
and if his book goes, you can take over his earlier Scribner books. 

Don t forget that if you decide to take over my Harper s books, you 
better do it before next fall and Main Streetbut as that gives you many 
months, no hurry about it. 

As ever, 

Sinclair Lewis 
We must announce Main Street early enough to keep the title cinched. 

Washington, Thursday 
Dear Alf: 

Isn t Laski s review of Keynes in the last Nation a wonder? And 
perfect for quoting in ads. 

Oh. Lay off Cabell. Not a chance to get him. He s absolutely tied up, 
by his own desire, to Guy Holt of McBride s. I saw Holt here this week 
and he s a wonder intelligent, energetic, and broadly trained in publish 
ing, and enthusiastic about you. Be a fine man for you to get hold of, if 
ever possible. 

As ever, 

1 Published as Seeing Things at Night, HB&Co., 1921. 

2 Frederic C. Howe: Denmark: A Cooperative Commonwealth, HB&Co., 1921. 


With the exception of one short trip to New York in April, Lewis re 
mained in Washington during this period, working on Main Street, His 
correspondence with the office continued, but was mainly about business 

Washington, Friday 
Dear Alf : 

Gosh I m rusty on writing advertising, and gosh but it s hard to 
describe a long realistic novel. But I ve made the effort and am enclosing, 
as the Boss commands, two accounts, one about a hundred, and one about 
two hundred words long; and a third about the people. If nothing else, I 
hope they ll give you a basis for stuff of your own, I m also writing Grace 
(who won t be back here till Apr. 26) to try a couple accts of the novel, 
as she s read it all. 

I m doing absolutely nothing but work on Main Street. Before June 
ist I ll be able to give you an exact estimate of the length of the whole 
thing, together with, say, 100,000 words to start setting; and be able to 
give you all the rest by June 1 5th, or earlier, 

I m cutting immenselynever cutting for the sake of cutting, but 
invariably removing any paragraph or sentence that doesn t cany weight, 
I think it will come down to somewhere around 170,000 words. Why 
don t you announce the thing in Pub Weekly at least? Say, fella, you 
better send me copy of Nonpartisan League. Don t forget I m the father 
and mother of that book who suggested it? Heh? (If it doesn t sell, my 
Heh may not be so loud. . . ,) 

As ever, 

April 17 
Dear Lewis; 

Special thanks for coming back so promptly with the descriptive 
material. We are glad you are sticking to the novel. Aside from making 
dummies, a piece of it isn t much good to us until we have it all In the 
present congestion in manufacture, you have to speak ahead for linotype 
machines and be sure that you have enough to keep them going on a job 
when you start them on it. But you are doing finely. Keep it up! 

How is Grace? I know that anybody who tries to live with you 
would need a rest every so often. 

We ll announce Main Street the first week in May. 

Sincerely yours, 

[1920] 27 

May 5 
Dear Lewis: 

You will be glad to know we have just sold 1000 Free Air to Aus 
tralia. The price is only 52 cents a copy, but there is a hundred odd 
dollars in it for you and it means the beginning of your market there. 
I hope nothing is hindering Main Street. 

Sincerely yours, 

Washington, May 8 
Dear Alf: 

Mighty glad to hear of the Australian sale. No; nothing is hindering 
Main Street. For example, yesterday, when I drove 190 miles to Berry - 
ville, Va. and back, was the first day I d taken off in eleven days; even 
last Sunday I worked till 5:30 P.M. Fm revising with the most minute 
care and, I fancy, with success. 

Why shouldn t Main Street, as an unusually factual picture of Amer 
ican life, go well in England? thus both increasing our return and getting 
that important come-back from England which seems so much to impress 
America? I wish you d plan to send over proofs for consideration by 
English publishers as soon as you have them. I haven t the contract here 
in niy office, but you and I share on English rights, don t we? If we don t, 
go ahead and we *will share em, anyway. 

. There is a little, uh, a small matter ... do I seem once or twice to 
have murmured of a certain matter a man named Hoyns, connected, if 
I remember, with a firm of waste-paper dealers in Franklin Square, who 
has the paper-rights to certain earlier compendia of mine? Do you seem 
to Oh the hell you don t. 

As ever, 

May to 
Dear Lewis: 

We have been trying Free Air in England and Herbert Jenkins just 
offers us $3 1 6 for a duplicate set of plates for the British market outside of 
Canada, free from royalty. The one Australian order is worth more than 
that, and I expect we shall tell them to go to. We ll see what they say to 
Main Street. 

Hoyns is in England. I ll get to him before we publish Main Street. 

Sincerely yours, 


Washington, Friday 

Dear Alf : 

Yes, I think I should tell Jenkins to go to the devil with his offer of 
$316. Perhaps after Main Street we can do better. 

When you get to Hoyns and talking buying books, don t you think 
it would be much better to leave out The Innoccnts-not take it over at 
all or, if you have to take it with the rest, not rcpublish it? The general 
opinion seems to be very strongly that it is too sentimental to be in agree 
ment with the other books, and republishing it might do more harm than 

I had lunch with Fred Howe, the Heywood Brouns, and the Gilson 
Gardners today. Mrs. Gardner is, you probably know, one of the three 
proprietors of the excellent small Wayfarers Bookshop here. She is wore 
than disposed to be friendly to all Harcourt books. They have sold more 
than 400 Keynes. She volunteered quite without the slightest suggestion 
from anybody else-this important criticism. I think I can give it pretty- 
nearly in her words: "There s one thing that HBH must do-they must 
vary the jackets of their serious books more. Using that same gray and 
the same general sort of make-up, they all look alike," 

I remember as a book reviewer having the same feeling about the 
jackets of non-fiction books of Putnam and Macmillan-their similarity, 
whereby no new interest was, at first glimpse, aroused by a new book* 
Lay out a bunch of your non-fiction books and look at em together and 
think this over. Mrs. G. is fairly intelligent and may be rite. 


May 17 
Dear Lewis: 

Thanks for yours of Friday. As to Main Street: Gehrs and Don are 
crying for material for a dummy, and I guess you had better let us have 
something. Do you see it with a picture jacket, or a serious-looking one 
like a Bennett or Wells novel, or a cross between the two, whatever that 
may be? I confess it hasn t come clear in my mind, and I d like your 
suggestions. We could do a line drawing somewhere on it, 

As to jackets in general: there is a gap between the Knopf splashes 
and our two or three sorts for non-fiction, There is an advantage in hav 
ing a book of ours generally recognized for its jacket the way Macmillan s 
and Doran s are. There is a great advantage, when paper orders are ac 
cepted subject to three months delay, in being able to buy considerable 
supplies of jacket paper, rather than having to hunt around for odd quan 
tities of odd colors. We shall treat each novel differently, at any rate, and 

[1920] 29 

of course we shall not be publishing quite so damn much non-fiction after 
we have hit the public in the eye with this spring s bunch. 

All right, we won t buy The Innocents unless it won t cost us any 
more to get it than to leave it out. 

Sincerely yours, 

Washington, May 19 
Dear Alf: 

For Main Street jacket, I think perhaps a type-jacket, with a small 
pen-and-ink sidewise-panel picture of a real Middlewestern Main Street 
would be best. It must not be humorous or cartoon-y. I enclose a layout 
for one, with text and make-up; and also enclose a memo for the artist, 

I m not satisfied with the text as I give it on the jacket. Change it as 
much as you wish, or can it entirely or use it if you do like it. I ve tried 
to get into it an idea of the book as a dignified and serious production, 
with reality & drama both in it. 

I am working right up to my final limit; and I am doing nothing but 
Main Street. But even so I m not at all sure that I shall have it entirely 
done before July ist. It s a damn long and detailed job, and requires un 
ending care. I can however let you have 100,000 words all ready to print 
by June ist, if you need it. 

As ever, 

May 21 
Dear Lewis: 

I am going to answer your letter about jacket, etc. since these matters 
fall within my particular province. We should like to go ahead at once to 
prepare a thin dummy. For this we shall want enough manuscript to set 
up 32 pages 10,000 words should be enough for this. 

We had a session this morning over the jacket. What we are chiefly 
interested in is a jacket that will sell the book to the limit, but none of us 
feels that your layout is the best we can do from this point of view. Of 
course we want the book to look dignified and serious, but not too dig 
nified and serious. We do not want to suggest that it has something to do 
with travel or that it is a small-town study. The main emphasis, I think, 
should be on the story something quite different from Free Air. I haven t 
a plan in mind that is concrete enough to sketch out, but I would like to 
talk the thing over with an artist and let him make some sketches and see 


what happens. The material you have sent will certainly be helpful. My 
hope is that among us all we may evolve a jacket that will be a wonder. 

Faithfully yours, 

Washington, May 22 
Dear Don: 

In reply to yours of yesterday, I am sending herewith 90 pages- 
about 27,000 words of the Main Street ms, together with the introduc 
tory matter. It s all ready to print. The estimate for the entire length of 
the book is 176,000 words, and this has been made very carefully ought 
to be pretty close. 

About the jacket go to it! Change my plan as much as you like, or 
can it entirely. One idea for picture would be the girl staring in despair 
at stupid village street, of the straight, harsh, Midwestern kind 1 speak of 
in my memo for artist* Or she might be facing, rather scared by, a group 
of stodgy, stupid, small-town people ready to struggle against them, But 
it MUST NOT be a love-story-romance-pretty-girl typical jacket, or it will 
lose the appeal to precisely the people most likely to be interested in this 
novel. How about a decoration rather than a straight picture an effective 
Franklin Booth pen-and-ink, or the kind of decorations this chap Guern 
sey Moore often does for articles in the Sat Even Post? Anyway, good 

Sinclair Lewis 

Washington, Saturday 
Dear Alf : 

In a few days you or her as takes in packageswill receive a huge 
bundle from me, by express. It contains manuscripts and magazine-copies 
of short stories I have written. I have been holding them against the day 
when I should be ready to select from them for one or more books of 
short stories. 

Would it be improper to ask you to store that bundle away some 
where till we re both ready (if ever!) to think about the matter of a book 
of short stories? There s so many of them now that I can t cany them 
round any longer, and if I stored them in an ordinary way, it would be 
hard to get hold of them if we did want them. 


[ 1920] 3 1 

The lease was up June ist on the ho^lse the Lewises had rented, Lewis 
moved to a new address in Washington where he planned to stay until 
the book was done > while Mrs. Lewis went to Virginia. 

(New address, June i to July i:) 
1127 Seventeenth Street, N.W., 
Washington, D.C. 
Monday, May 31 

Dear Don: 

Both Grace and I are wildly enthusiastic about the sketch for the 
jacket. It s just right; I m sure it s just the thing tt>sell the book; both 
dignified and interesting. And we like the shelf -back as much as the front. 

I can t tell what the artist plans to do with the figure. If it weren t 
for the position of the girl s feet, I d think she was back-to-us, looking at 
the street. And why wouldn t that be a good, and somewhat original, way 
to have her-instead of having her face us, have her back to us, as she 
looks at the street, and possibly instead of working out any details or 
costume, have her in complete silhouette. 

The figure should be slender and smart, as now. But she should not 
have the little purse she now carries. Carol would not have one. She 
would either have nothing in her hand-or she might be carrying an over 
night bag, which would indicate that she had just come from the train 
and was having her first glimpse of Main Street, thus suggesting the story. 

I can t tell but I think the artist means to have Roseb Movie on the 
sign on the right-as a part of the sign Rosebud Movie Palace. But it also 
looks like Rose* Movie. It should be Roseb or Rosebud. 

I m very much excited about the jacket, and very much pleased. In 
letter-press on back or flap you mite use the subtitle, "The Story of Carol 
Kennicott," to give hint that this is a story, & possibly use w. my name, 
"Author of The Job" Please give my congratulations to the artist-don t 

know who he is. 

S Lewis 

June i 

Dear Lewis: . . 

I am delighted with your enthusiasm about the jacket. I think it is an 
unusually striking composition of color and design. The fact that you 
couldn t tell whether the girl was coming or going reflects her hesitation 
on that point. She was waiting in the sketch for us to make up our mind. 
The artist will go ahead and place her back to the audience. She mustn t 


carry an overnight bag, however, because she went from the station in an 
automobile and went out afterwards to see the town. You see I have read 
the part of the manuscript you sent on, although I reali /cd this was an 
unconventional thing for me to do. 

Faithfully yours, 

Washington, Tuesday 
Dear Alf : 

Terribly glad you like the first 90 pages. Of one thing I am dead sure, 
both from my own revising and from Grace s remarks: the book steadily 
gets better as it goes on, and the last 200 pages will be much the best of 
all, which is, I think a good thing people are attracted by the first part 
but they are held, they are made to commend a book, by the last part. 


Washington, Wednesday 
Dear Alf: 

Here s another note characteristically modest! It is NOT intended to 
run as-is, but to form the basis for one or two or three publicity notes or 
advertising or catalogue spiels, 

It probably would best be broken into two different notes: one about 
this-here author and how he got his material (and to that can be added 
matter about The Job, Our Mr. Wrenn, etc), and the other a challenging, 
attention-rousing, tho possibly trouble-making suggestion that Mx\ Lewis 
does not find all beautiful and perfect in Red-blooded Small-town Amer 
icanism. I don t think it would hurt to let a hint of this critical attitude 
slip out; it would stir more eagerness than a supposition that (like all the 
rest save Sherwood Anderson) Mr. Lewis purrs over the American village 
as being God s own particular residence. Just as it is Kcyncs s criticism 
that makes his book go. 

Grace is also writing some notes, which I ll send when I gctum, 


Washington, Wednesday, July 7 
Dear Alf: 

Thanks a lot for sending me the new P.W. (Publishers Weekly) ad 
much impressed and delighted by it. ... Wouldn t it be a good thing 

[1920] 33 

in future ads to mention fact that the book will NOT be, in any part, in 
any magazine, or will the travelers sufficiently convey that? 

I ll be all through and shoot you in the complete ms in eight or ten 
days. Since I last saw you, in April wasn t it, I haven t stopped for a 
minute been doing nothing but work on Main Street. Last night I worked 
till ten minutes after midnight! Grace is down country, but I ve stayed 
here soz to work uninterrupted. My Gawd how much work there has 
beenhow it has gone on, even tho I ve tried to hurry. Done my damnd 
est to get it down before but cdn t without scamping the work. But now 
week or week and a half more is all, and I m at it night and day. 

Hope you will be in NY middle and end of next week so you ll get 
it. Will try to come up so that we can take up together any changes if 
any changes or cuts should be necessary. If you re out of NY but not too 
far away cd perhaps come to you. 

I m going to ask you for an advance of $500. Working on this so 
long about eight solid months * with prices what they have been, I m 
almost entirely broke. 

In haste, 


* 8 months since mid of last November, to say nothing of 2 or 3 months 
in previous years & efforts to get started. 

Dear Lewis: 

After I saw the advertisement in print in the Publishers Weekly, I 
wished I had said that the book had not been offered for serialization any 
where, but the travelers are pounding that fact, and we shall say it in the 
next ad. 

Your suggestion is just what I had hoped for, that we could have a 
day or two together after the manuscript is finished. I would like twenty- 
four quiet hours with it before I talk to you about it. I expect to be here 
right along* Hastings is off to camp, my mother off to the country, and 
we have room for you in the house at Mount Vernon. 
Here is the check for $500. You deserve it. 

Ever yours, 

Washington, Friday 
Dear Alf: 

You re a wonder! That check so quickly! See you P.D.Q. 



Lewis came to New York from Washington on Saturday, July ijth, with 
the complete manuscript. Harcourt read it over the weekend and they 
discussed changes and deletions at his home in Mount Vernon, The dis 
cussions ended to their complete satisfaction, with Lewis making only 
minor alterations, 

Kennebago Lake House, 
Kennebago Lake, Maine 
July 27 
Dear Don: 

Here she is-the last thirty pages of Main Street-thank the Lord, 
Now to go fishing! It s about perfect here-lakes, pines, birches, moun 
tains, cold nights. 

Will you please tell Miss Eayrs that I ll be writing her some publicity 
notes P.D.Q.? And will you please ask her if she hasn t that photograph 
showing me sitting at a table with typewriter, cigarettes, etc. In some 
ways it s the best one I ve ever had. 

As ever, 
Sinclair Le*ivis 

Kennebago Lake, August 1 1 
Dear Alf : 

There s several things I ve been thinking of that I want to take up 

with you. ^, v-w>r , , 

J Claude Washbum 

I spoke to you about a new novel, Order, by Claude Washbum, pub 
lished by Duffield. Washbum has ability and should grow considerably. 
He s really on the job now after some years of rather taking it easy in 
Italy. I have here a letter from him in which he expresses dissatisfaction 
with Duffield. He has finished about 2/3 of a new novel, 1 apparently 
much his biggest one. Will you do this: write him inviting him to send 
in what he has done (this is his suggestion). This looks to me like the 
possibility of annexing a real fiction writer, and you won t be tying your 
self up at all. 

Letter to critics 

I ve thought (and rather worried) a lot about the problem of the 
real critics assuming that Main Street is another Free Air and not really 
reading it, or giving it to assistants. I wish that in a week or two you 
would write to some or all of the following a letter (form letter with a 
personal paragraph, perhaps) something to this effect: The last two novels 

1 The Lonely Warrior, HB&Co., 1922. 

[1920] 35 

by Lewis, Innocents and Free Air, have been but interludes during the 
planning of Main Street, and the actual work on it has taken most of the 
last two years. I presume that you like his The Job. Well, this is much 
bigger than The Job just as true and much better done. It is almost the 
first book which really pictures American small-town life. It has not been 
pub. in or offered to any magazine. I m writing you about it beforehand 
in the hope that when it comes you will be able to give it your personal 
attention. Something like that to: Henry Mencken, Hackett or Lippmann 
on New Republic, Van Wyck Brooks on the Freeman, Floyd Dell on the 
Liberator, Heywood Broun on N.Y. Tribune, Mrs. Dawson on the. Globe, 
Ben6t on NYEvening Post, Franklin P. Adams on Tribune (BE SURE SEND 
HIM A COPY), Christopher Morley on NYEvening Post, O.O.McIntyre, 
who does a colyum syndicated thru US, Wilson Follett, Lawrence Gil- 
man, William Lyon Phelps, Stuart Sherman. AND any other really impor 
tant critics you can think of. 

I think that such a letter a short, tactful one, interesting yet devoid 
of superlativeswould be of importance in counteracting the danger of 
this being neglected as another magaziney tale. Couldn t Spingarn if he 
reads the proofs and likes the book write some of these letters to the 
critics and sign them himself, perhaps? 

Publicity Notes 

Why don t you save yourself and Miss Eayrs the task of writing 
publicity notes (and occasionally Planting a Story) by having some 
trained publicity man or woman do it on the side? And it does take special 
training such as having been on a newspaper. Most publishers fall down 
in doing publicity because, however fine and full their training as pub 
lishers, they ve never had that newspaper experience which is the one 
basis of getting publicity. Thass all! 

As ever, 

August 14 
Dear Lewis: 

Thanks for yours of the nth. I am glad to notice that you date it. 
I had to go back through your letters the other day to look up something. 
Something like "Thursday" is all you indulge in. Of course I am interested 
in Claude Washburn. I have written to him. Thank you. 

The sort of letter you mention for critics will go, of course, except 
that I have made a point of running into a number of them, and doing 


part of it by word of mouth. I know I have Heywood Broun and the Post 
folks primed for it in that way, 

We do have some trained people to do special publicity. You know 
I don t believe much in the John-Hobank-h^-stubbed-his-third-toe-and- 
so-can t-finish-his-new-novel-until-Thursday sort of publicity, and thank 
heaven you don t either. 

Have you become an earnest fisherman? 

Ever yours, 

Dear Alf : 

I think the title of the next gt. realistic not-to-be-serializcd nov. by 
Mr. Sinclair Lewis, which ll be the story of the Tired Business Man, of 
the man in the Pullman smoker, of our American ruler, of the man play 
ing golf at the country club at Minneapolis, Omaha, Atlanta, Rochester, 
will be the name of the central character, and that name, and title, will be 
(I think): PUMPHREY. How does it strike you? Doesn t it delineate the 
man to you? And titles that arc names are rather successful in sticking in 
mind, for example: Clayhanger^ Mary Olivier^ Kip[>$ 9 McTcafftic, Rthati 
Frome, Adam 3ede, Silas Mamcr, Nicholas Nicklcby, David Copperfield) 
Mile. Maupin, Madame It ovary, pretty good precedents, don t you think. 
G, T. Pumphrey, of Monarch City, . , . 
Like it? 

And it will be done 
Oh, Gawd! 

As ever, 

Lewis and his wife stayed at Kennebago Lake through September pth, 
arriving in New York on Friday, the loth. For several weeks they re 
mained in New York at the Manhattan Sq tmre Hotel Mrs. Lewis, how 
ever, went to Washington house-hunting and rejoined Lewis in New 
York -for about a week before their departure for Washington on October 
ijth. Main Street was published on the 


Publication and Success 


1639 1 9th St., NW. 
Washington, D.C 
Thursday Oct. 2 1 
Dear Alf ; 

Lord it s beautiful-the three, to date, F.P.A. boosts, and the Broun 
review! I m terribly glad. Bully letter from Cabell-seems to like the book 
a lot and says he s proud to be in the dedication. 1 

And, with just-reed check from Post for story sold while I was in 
NY, Lorimer has raised my price per story from $900 to $1000, so every 
thing flourishes. 

I snook secretively into Brcntano s here yesterday and noted they 
still had a pile of about 15 Free Airs. Hope to Gawd they get rid of them, 
and hope there s not many other stores still heavily stocked therewith, or 
naturally it ll cramp their enthusiasm for Main Street. Perhaps M St will 
also start up Free Air again. In fact: @$"?%* W (#;;)$*-/%*M- as Guy 
Pollock so well says in that brilliant new book Main Street, which you 
really must read. 


In the early days Harcourt often wrote to Lewis by hand or from home, 
and there are no copies of many of his letters. However, Lewfs refer 
ences to them often supply continuity. 

Washington, October 25 
Dear Alf: 

You know how glad I am of the news that calls for M St have been 
such that you ve had to reprint. Have you ever talked to Robert Bench- 
ley about it, for the World? 

1 Lewis dedicated Main Street to James Branch Cabell and Joseph Hergesheimer, 


This letter is about three possible Harcourt authors: 

Arthur IBullard 

Author of A MLxrls World and Comrade Yetta (both admirable 
novels), The Stranger, recent and pretty good: books on Morocco, 
Panama, and Russia, all published by Macmillan. He lives here in Wash 
ington, and I was sounding him out the other clay. He is, I m sorry to 
say, of the Cadet faction regarding Russia, which shows poor judgment; 
and certainly his recent novel hasn t shown any increased skill. So he s 
by no means a certain bet. 

Arthur D. Call 

Brother-in-law of George Soule. Secretary of the American Peace 
Society, Washington, and editor of The Advocate of Peace. He has a 
series of ten articles on the idea that the recent war has not destroyed the 
peace movement which would make a book at least worth considering. 

Gene McCo?nas 

There is, in California, a girl who, if she would, could write as well 
as Joe Hcrgesheimer: Mrs, Francis McComas, wife of a water-eolorist 
well known on the Pacific Coast. She s young probably 32; father editor 
of an Oakland, Calif, paper; when he died, she had to leave art school and 
go to work on Oakland paper; since her marriage has gone back to paint 
ing. That s why she hasn t written more has taken it out in painting. But 
like many others Hergcsheimer, Yeats, Robt Chambers I expect her to 
turn from one kind of color to the other some day. 

I judge her great ability by her letters. Ordinarily of course that s a 
deceptive basis of judgment but so remarkable is her sense of color in 
words, so brilliant her phrasing, so distinguished her taste, so illuminating 
her bits of scenes, so fascinated her interest in everything from smart 
parties at Del Monte to Jap fisher boats wrecked on the beach, that I 
know what she can do. She declares that she has no sense of plot; I ve 
given her hell many times but with no result. I m quite sure that a letter 
from the great publisher would stir her where I couldn t. 

Sinclair Lewis 

Washington, Wednesday, October 27 
Dear Alf : 

Letter this morning from John Peter Toohey, theatrical press agent 
who writes many stories for Sat Even Post, but a man I ve never met or 

[1920] 39 

had correspondence with or know anything about. He says, among other 
things: "I lay in bed this morning until 1:15 reading Main Street and if 
it isn t the best novel written in these United States in a decade Fll eat my 
hat. Fve just written Harry Mencken to go out and grab a copy instanter 
and Fm calling Booth Tarkington s attention to it in a letter which I am 
sending him." 

IVe thanked him and suggested that perhaps you may call him 
up. My idea is this: Perhaps, IF Tark likes it, you can get, through Mr. 
Toohey, a boost from Tark quotable in ads. Mencken we d better let 
alone he ll be getting touchy. 

Hope all goes gloriously. 

As ever, 


Have qualms about name Pumphrey now too English and mite be 
thought humorous. But I think I shall use for next novel s title a man s 
name, standing alone Pumphrey or some other name. 

October 27 
Dear Lewis: 

I enclose the Heywood Broun part of this morning s Tribune. It is 
intensely interesting, and of course a good thing from every point of 
view, 1 This letter is to say it is my judgment that you would be very 
unwise to answer it yourself. Somebody else will, and the thing to do is 
to get as many people as possible passing it back and forth, without your 
coming in to settle it. Forgive all this present tense, imperative mode about 
what is after all your business. 


Washington, Thur. Oct 28 
Dear Alf: 

Your special delivery letter came last evening. No indeed, I shan t 
answer the Floyd Dell comments in the Tribune shan t even comment. 
The Dell discussion is stimulating & Tm glad of it. 

As ever, 

1 Refers to a controversy in the New York Tribune in which Heywood Broun 
answered Floyd Dell s attack on Main Street. 


October 29 

Dear Lewis: 

The letters from Toohey and Flandrau are bully and very useful. 
Pass on anything else of the sort you get, I am using them in a letter to 
the trade, and if they pile up enough, we can get permission to use them 
in public advertising. 

We have orders for a thousand out of the next edition which will be 

in the first of the week. 

Sincerely yours, 


Washington, October 30 

Dear Alf: 

Wonderful letter from Philip Curtiss! Thank you very much for 
sending it to me. Doesn t Curtiss live in Hartford, at least part of the 
time? Couldn t you get him to review M St for Hartford paper? Would 
be marvelous to quote. 

Mencken likes it. John Peter Toohey writes me that Mencken wrote 
him, "I have read Main Street from end to end and with great joy, It is, 
as you say, a fine piece of work. It seems to me that his quotations from 
the Gopher Prairie Dauntless are even better than his conversations." 
Then, today, comes a voluntary letter from Mencken to me saying, "I 
hasten to offer my congratulations. Main Street is a sound and excellent 
piece of workrite best thing of its sort that has been done so far. More, 
I believe it will sell. I ll review it in the January Smart Set, the first issue 
still open." 


As ever, 

Washington, Monday Nov. i 
Dear Alf: 

Delighted to know of orders against second printing. Like your letter 
to the trade extremely. My only criticism is that I d quote the Flandrau 
letter differently in case you use it again. There may some time be a 
place for the longer version, and it s good to get in the "no volume lias 
gone deeper" unless it s too superlative. I d quote most of the last para 
graph in Curtiss s letter about "may not seem of calibre of Anna Karen- 
ma, but I know of no more delicate scene in literature" etc. 

[1920] 41 

Do you know anybody who is in touch with W. L. George? He s 
beginning to air his newly formed opinions on American novels. Wouldn t 
it be highly advisable to get a Main Street through to him in some per 
sonal sort of way, and get him to read it while he s lecturing and being 
interviewed all round? 

As ever, 

November 4 
Dear Lewis: 

I have seen Mr. Call. Nothing in it for us yet. I shan t bother about 
Arthur Bullard or Gene McComas. Bullard has gone too far without really 
doing anything, and life is too short for the other. 

I like the idea of "a man s name" for the next novel, but not any 
queer-sounding name like Pumphrey. Get a name like Main Street. 

Henry Forman has been in and given us some winged words that we 
can quote. Note the fit that Lewisohn throws in this week s Nation, and 
even the respectful consideration in the Weekly Review. 

Sincerely yours, 

Nov. 6 
Dear Lewis: 

Philadelphia North American had a decent review this morning, and 
Chicago Daily News a perfunctory one last Wednesday, It s curious that 
the sophisticated Tribune folks, and a real critic like Lewisohn see the 
greatness of the book while the provinces like it but lack the nerve or the 
sense. Not so curious after all, just too bad. Not that these reviews are in 
any sense slams. I suppose I want everybody on his hind legs about it and 
nothing less. 


November 6 
Dear Lewis: 

I am sending you an advance copy of Jacob Wassermann s The 
World s Illusion. Since Spingarn has read Main Street, he is not so sure 


that The World s Illusion is the most distinguished work we are pub 
lishing. What do you think? 


Washington, November 1 1 
Dear Alf: 

The Nation review is tremendous! Did you see Robert Benchlcy s 
review in the NY World for Monday? 

About the next novel. We ought to be thinking of it before too long, 
Mustn t let too long a time elapse between M St and next. The principal 
problem will be to finance it. About that we ll know more by next May, 
say; but I wish you d keep it in mind. . . . I m busy making many notes 
for it 

Pumphrey, you say, is too freakish a name. I don t think, the, that 
the title name ought to be too common-like Jones, Smith, Robertson, 
Thompson, Brown, Johnson for the reason that then people will asso 
ciate the name not with the novel but with their numerous acquaintances 
who have that common name. What do you think of the following: 
BURGESS-BABIHTT--HORNBY or some name of that typenormal, yet not 
too common? 

A New Haven friend writes me that Prof. Billy Phclps is enthusiastic. 
Did you send a copy to Prof. Stuart Sherman? Might be worth while? 

As ever, 

Nov. n 
Dear Lewis: 

I wish we could have another hefty novel next fall, but Ftl rather 
have it much later than not to have it of real heft, and of course so would 
you. "Burgess" is a good name, 

I ve just read Zona Gale s Lulu Bctt; it s a clean tight job, should 
interest you for the sheer economy of words to get the effect, but it 
doesn t hold a candle to Main Street. 

Yours much, 

[1920] 43 

Washington, Nov. 11 
Dear Alf : 

Would it maybe be wise to send a copy of the Nation review to 
H. G. Wells, Bernard Shaw, Galsworthy, Conrad, Geo Moore, Walpole, 
Compton Mackenzie, W. L. George, Arnold Bennett, Edmund Gosse, 
Leonard Merrick, Thomas Hardy, Edith Wharton, with a letter: 

We fancy that you are interested in the advance of American fiction. 
Doesn t the enclosed review indicate to you the rise of a new and authentic 
interpreter of America? The New York Nation, under its present eager and 
international-minded editorship, is of somewhat more than respectable judg 
mentand it has never, so far as we know, shown quite such enthusiasm for 
a novel as it has for Main Street. 

Have you a copy of the book? Would you like one? If you will send us a 
Yes on a card, we shall hasten to send you one. We believe that in it you will 
find expressed, honestly, observantly, without the tabu of the old tribal for 
mulae, the real America of today Middlewestern villages and farms, business 
men, restless women. 

We admit that we have a crafty hope that you may perhaps be moved to 
send us a sentence of approbation, inasmuch as your verdict means so very 
much to America, but we promise not to pursue you with further requests for 
such an opinion unless you feel really like volunteering it. 

Would you like a copy? 

Might something like that flush a covey, possibly? I dunno. 7f you 
got anything, could also be used in selling edition to England. I include 
WLGeorge and Walpole with the bunch, despite the fact that they ve 
had copies, because I suspect they re getting American novels in piles, 
and tend not to read em. For Edith Wharton, being American, partly 
American maybe, the letter might have to be changedbut not so much, 
not so much! 

Thrilled over the tidings of the melting of the second printing. 
Could you get Mencken to give you one quotable sentence in anticipa 
tion of his review? If you happened to run into him, you might be able 
diplomatically to approach the matter. 

As ever, 


P.S, IF you want to do this, and IF any of the authors do send for the 
book, I think you could properly, despite promise not to pursue them, 
send with the book a note to remind them of what we want: 

As we promised, we shall not pursue you for an opinion on Main Street, 
but if you do by any chance feel moved to send us one voluntarily, it will be 
of invaluable assistance in our none-too-easy task of persuading America that 
this is a book worthy of its earnest interest. 


P.P.S. I suggest sending the Nation review, instead of a book, first, be 
cause thus, if they do answer, you can be sure of some interest on their 
parts when the book arrives. And copies of the Nation are cheaper than 
books for the experimentas experiment it would be. 

Washington, Nov. i z 
Dear Alf : 

You speak of your wish for hefty novel next fall. Gocl, I wish so, too! 
It s purely a matter of financing. If I had the money I d be working on it 
right now tho indeed I am making notes, lots of them daily* The devil 
of it is that it will take about one full year from the time I start the actual 
writing of the book to the time when, with proofs and manufacture all 
over, it can actually be published. I don t see how I can begin that writing 
till next spring, at the earliest, which means publication in spring of 1922, 
at the earliest. And, double damn it, with the need of getting ahead, I 
don t even know that I can start it next spring. But of course there arc 
three possibilities for financing aside from HJJ.&H. making me a guar 
antee. Those are: Main Street may really make some money. "Willow 
Walk" x may go as a movie. The musical comedy may go over, We ll 
probably have to postpone Europe some more! 

When I do the next one, it will be at least as good as Main Street, 
I think it will be better. I think the central character will bulk larger than 
Carol. And all details will be done with at least equal care. And it will NOT 
be serializedat least not in any magazine with a large circulation, and 
probably not in any at all. 

Some time this winter I m going to some Midwestern city say Cin 
cinnati or Dayton or Milwaukeeand complete the material for the next 
novel which I made a good beginning of gathering in Minneapolis, St. 
Paul, Seattle, San Francisco, New Haven, Washington. , . . I want to 
make my city of 300,000 just as real and definitive in the novel as I made, 
or tried to make, Gopher Prairie. 


Wash n, Nov. 1 3 
Dear Alf: 

Hope orders have now justified printing of 3d edition. Some blow 
out in the Tribune yesterday. Isn t it getting to be time that somebody 
gently answered Floyd -Dell, or everybody will be saying that I ve been 
unfair. I shan t answer, but I wonder if you couldn t get somebody to 

1 Short story by Lewis published in the Saturday Evening Post, August to, 1918. 

[1920] 45 

say John Peter Toohey, Philip Curtiss, or somebody you know person 
ally? If so, couldn t you send em a copy of the following, announcing 
that you do NOT wish to influence unduly, but that it does represent our 

Why this controversy as to the attitudes of Felix Fay in Moon-Calf and 
Carol in Main Street toward small towns toward American life? The answer 
is so simple! Felix really is Floyd Dell, and therefore, since Mr. Dell is a gen 
ius, since he is introspective and creative, would be about equally happy or 
unhappy on Main Street or in the Quartier Latin. Whereas Carol Kennicott 
distinctly is not Sinclair Lewis. She is, as Mr. Lewis specifically states, a small 
town woman, differing from other small-town women only in being more 
sensitive and articulate. Another thing: Felix is young, detached, and he is a 
male. He can work in factories, go to beer-flowing picnics, be ardent at so 
cialist locals. But Carol, wife of the country doctor, watched, criticized, could 
do none of those things without a courage so extraordinary that it would make 
her not a small-town woman but an Ellen Key. 1 Indeed in one paragraph she 
is presented as wishing that she could do just the sort of thing Felix does work 
in the mill. Finally, though he is born in a village, Felix spends years in a town 
of 30,000, with half a dozen philosophers and poets. Half a dozen confidants 
are as good as half a thousand. But in her prairie town of 3000, Carol hasn t 
even one and it may be said that there are ten or twenty thousand Carols in 
this country who would be amply content, for all their lives, if they could have 
merely the half dozen that Felix does have. 

Wouldn t that be worth while-if you can ethically and worthily plant 
it? It is, if I am not mistaken, both true and pertinent. 

As ever, 

Washington, Nov. 17 

Dear Alf : 

I strolled through Brentano s, Pearlman s, and Ballantyne s, this after 
noon. I couldn t, of course, examine minutely, but I looked about pretty 
well, and the Main Street jacket does beautifully stand out. Well, I 
couldn t see a single copy in either Ballantyne s or Pearlman s, and in 
Brentano s only two copies, which were stuck away on a shelf under a, 
counter. Of course you can tell more in one minute from order sheets 
than I could from a hundred snooping trips. I know there s nothing these 
damned authors do oftener than complain that their bally masterpieces 
aren t being done-right-by in local bookstores, and I make this report for 
what little value it may have. 

* Swedish feminist and writer. 


Thanks a lot for copy of letter to Columbia re Pulitzer Prize, for 
having thought of submitting M St for the pme, and for note about 3d 
printing. I don t see how a publisher could possibly get behind a book 
more actively and more intelligently than H B & H have behind M St! 

As ever, 

November 18 
Dear Lewis: 

We thought there had probably been enough stir in Washington by 
this time. They ll get the reaction from New York presently, surely by 
the first of December when Congress assembles. The book is reiilly selling 
in New York City, Baker and Taylor take another thousand, which just 
cleans out the second printing. In fact, we are not filling the entire order 
at once so as to be sure to have stock until we get the third lot next week. 
We have bought a piece of paper which will print 6000 more as soon as 
the third lot is off press. When that paper is used up, it will mean a total 
of 26,000. All this gives us some real money to spend on our advertising 


Washington, Nov. 10 
Dear Alf: 

Prof. Wm Lyon Phelps lectured here last night. He says that he is 
going to speak extensively of Main Street in his lectures in Philadelphia, 
Bridgeport, and New Haven, and that he will urge his audiences (which 
run about 800, largely women) to buy the book, Gus might tell this to 
buyers from those three cities, if he sees them or is writing them, Prof. 
Phelps said to me, "1920 is an extraordinary year in American fiction. 
There hasn t been another with so many good novels for many, many 
years. And the three outstanding books-thc three on which I shall spe 
cialize in lectures-are The Age of Innocence, Main Street & Mm Lulu 

I enclose letter from George Doran. As The Young Visitors l was 
presented here in play form this week, and was excellent, I wrote him 
about it suggesting publicity stunts, hence his letter. (Also I think that 

1 A novel by Daisy Ashford, a nine-year-old English girl, which caused a sensa 
tion when J. M. Barrie, who had written the introduction, was accused of being the 

[1920] 47 

any pleasant relations between HBH and GHD are worth while, and I 
contribute as a humble member of the firm of HBH.) 


Washington, Nov. 20 
Dear Alf : 

Bully ad, the big one for the Times for a week from now. Have 
bought Miss Lulu Bett and will read it. My first impression is of the 
horribleness of the jacket. Mighty glad you insisted on full picture for 
front of Main St jacket. 

The name of the next novel will be, I think: FITCH. The name of the 
central character will be Jefferson Fitch. I blieve it combines normality 
with sufficient distinctiveness to be remembered; it sounds as American 
as John Brown. How do you like it especially after a day or two? 


Washington, November 24 
Dear Alf: 

If you wanted to, I think you could get a line from Edna Ferber 
about M St nice letter from her but nothing that can be detached for 
quotation. Same about Charles G. Norris, author of Salt. 

Carl Van Doren writes me that he heard a Columbia instructor or 
professor "arguing with a whole gang of men at luncheon that Main 
Street is the most truthful novel ever written." If you run into Van Doren, 
or call him up, why don t you find out who said that; possibly get said 
unknown to write twenty words to that effect though of course he may 
not yet be sufficiently advanced on the academic ladder so that the Dear 
Readers will listen to him. 


Washington, November 26 

Dear Alf: 

CHEERS! An unsolicited letter from Galsworthy, apparently out west 
lecturing. It runs as follows: ". . . I am an ignorant person, but it seems 
to me that so wholesome and faithful a satiric attitude of mind has been 
rather conspicuously absent from American thought and literature. . . . 
It s altogether a brilliant piece of work and characterisation. My hearty 


congratulations. Every country, of course, has its Main Streets, all richly 
deserving of diagnosis, but America is lucky to have found in you so 
poignant and just and stimulating a diagnostician. ." 

I should imagine from the friendliness of this that you might be able 
to get him to write for you something to be used in advertising etc., or 
get him to let you use sentences from the letter, or both. It does seem to 
me that Galsworthy s undoubted fame and reputation for sheer honesty 
would make this worth while. 

Lewis Galantierc, an intelligent chap I know here in Washington, 
friend to Sherwood Anderson, Guy Holt, Burton Rascoe, ct al., is going 
to France, to be stationed there on a bvisiness mission. He insists that Main 
Street must be translated into French. He seems to know something of 
French publishers and of the proper approach. He is a fine lad and I have 
given him a card to Spingarn so that he may talk over this with him. 

Corking, 17,000 already. Well get that 100,000. 


Washington, November 27 
Dear Alf : 

Here s something possibly even better than the John Galsworthy 
letter the enclosed editorial on Main Street by William Allen White 
because Middle America knows White and knows that he knows the 
Middlewest. It can t be said of him, as it might of Galsworthy, "but he 
is no judge of Main Street." In his letter Mr. White says: "Mrs. White 
and I, reading aloud, have just finished Main Street, and I hasten to tell 
you what a noble thing you have done. . . . With all my heart I thank 
you for Will Kennicott and Sam Clark; they are the Gold Dust Twins of 
common sense, I don t know where in literature you will find a better 
American, or more typical, than Dr. Will Kennicott ... If I were a 
millionaire, I should buy a thousand of those books and send them to my 
friends and then I would go and bribe the legislature of Kansas to make 
Main Street compulsory reading in the public schools. No American has 
done a greater service for his country m any sort of literature than you 
have done" 

Mr, White says he wants to send out a number of M Sfs to various 
friends with my name in them. For this, he sends a blank check to be sent 
to you and by you filled out. (My God, what trust!) He says, "I want 
to use your book for a Christmas present." 

Wouldn t a copy of White s editorial and one of Galsworthy s letter 
be very valuable things to send to the proper persons regarding the 

[1920] 49 

Pulitzer Novel Prize in addition to the clippings which, in your letter 
to some Columbia professor, you said you were sending? White is known 
as a fine upstanding American of great intelligence. 

And wouldn t a copy of Galsworthy s letter be of value for trying 
to sell a respectably large edition to the English publishers? 

I am glad of the beautiful break on 2nd and 3rd printings. Do you 
know, I think we ought all now to be expecting to sell not 40,000 alone 
but actually 100,000! And I think we can do it! The book has just begun 
to percolate outside of NY, and 15,000 are gone. Give us a year and a 
quarter of pushing, and we ought to see 100,000 sale anyway which 
would enable SL to write his next novel with clear sailing and then some, 
and would, I hope, with costs slightly diminishing, give HBH a little 
money to spare. Won t you talk that over with Gus, Don, et al. and see 
if they don t think with me that there s a fine sailing wind for 100,000, 
and reasons for working toward it? If this proves true, if the 3rd and 4th 
printings go as the second have, pretty soon you ll have to begin to print 
10,000 at a clip, don t you think? 

In all the above I say "we" not "you," because I expect to do any 
thing and everything I can to help. For one thing: As you remember, our 
contract arrangement is that I am to receive 10% as long as active adver 
tising goes on, then 15%, Well, I should quite serenely see myself receiv 
ing only 10% all the way up to 100,000 if continued advertising will help 
the sale of the book. 

And if it s any help I ll keep up these profuse epistles, tho God 
knoweth even to my naive authorship it occurs it may be that the one 
thing I could do to help would be to relieve you of all this flood save 
perhaps such items as the Galsworthy letter! But till I get beaten up, I go 
on trustingly writing at length. 

By the way, doesn t the Galsworthy letter suggest some merit in my 
recently at4ength-outlined scheme to try to get comments from Wells, 
Shaw, George, et al? You might well quote to them from the Galsworthy 
letter! ! 

So! Off for 100,000! Alf, we ve got em all by the ears! Harcourt, 
Boni, Knopf, Huebsch will dominate the publishing world and me oh 
hell, I ll go home and read a book about real estate as preparation for 


by the author of Main Street 

First printing: 




November 27 
Dear Lewis: 

The Galsworthy letter is perfectly fine. The printings now ordered 
total 32,000. It is not a question of printing 5000 or 10,000 according to 
the sales you expect in quite the fashion which used to prevail when you 
were in the publishing business. The way the paper market is, it is a ques 
tion of picking up what you can find of the right size and weight, and 
the odd numbers mean so many books according to the piece of paper. 
As the paper market is falling a little, we don t want to load up with 
heavy supplies at the top price, but keep just far enough ahead so that we 
can surely keep our books in stock. Knopf is out of Moon-Cdf for two 

The letters went to the English authors with the Nation review, so 
it is too late to send them a quotation from Galsworthy. 

As you know, we thought of raising the price after the first edition. 
Gus and Don and I have discussed it a good deal, have said 100,000 to 
ourselves before you did, and don t feel like monkeying with the price at 
least until the book gets all the legs under it that it will; say sometime 
next year. What we are out to do on this book is to make you as an 
author. We ll get a contribution to our overhead now and can take profits 
next time or the time after that. 

I suppose you realize the change that has come over your position as 
a novelist because of the success this book has had and is going to have. 
It is something like the change that has come over me as a publisher in 
the last year because of the success this business has had, and I must give 
you a tip out of my experience. There were a great many people who had 
all the good wishes in the world for this enterprise, and to whom I could 
spill my hopes and aspirations as frankly and freely as to you or to Don. 
With success, that changes somewhat, and one has to stop wearing his 
heart on his sleeve and play with the cards closer to his belt. I should 
think that with an author whose fortune seems sometimes to depend a 
good deal on the whim of the public, the jealousies that grow up arc apt 
to be even more acute. You have now made a great success, and it is going 
to be a good deal bigger, and so very early in the game when there is no 
particular reason for saying it as far as you are concerned, I am giving 
you this little lead out of my own experience with a warning to watch 
your step in your letters, and perhaps most of all, watch from whom you 
accept any favors. 

Ever yours, 

[1920] 51 

Washington, November 29 
Dear Alf : 

The Main Street ad in the Sunday Times of yesterday is magnificent 
simply leaps out of the page, indeed, leaps out of that whole magazine- 
review-section, at the reader. It s one of the best book ads I ve ever seen; 
one of the best examples of use of white space. 

Bully letter, yours of Saturday. Your tip about not wearing my heart 
on my sleeve, about being careful of letters and of alliances, is excellent 
and shall be kept in mind. I m glad you gave it to me. It s the sort of point 
of view to which, if it were not early suggested, one might win slowly 
and by experience none too pleasant. I m awfully glad you-all see a pos 
sible 100,000, as I do. I think you must know how much I appreciate your 
faith and all the damn, straining, hustling attention to details you have 
to give. 

As ever, 

Washington, November 30 
Dear Alf: 

I had hoped to be able to keep from doing it, but I m afraid I shall 
have to ask you to let me have another $500 on Main Street royalties, and 
P.D.Q. I received, this morning, a rejection of a story from the Post, and 
on that story I had considerably counted to keep me going and a little 
more. I shall send story to Harper s, but I can t bank on it, and meantime 
the bank account is down to almost nothing. 

I am, frankly, having a hell of a time in trying at once to turn myself 
back into the successful S.E.P. writer I was a year ago and yet do for 
them nothing but stories so honest that they will in no way get me back 
into magazine trickiness nor injure the M St. furore. And so, three weeks 
ago, I destroyed 60,000 words of just-finished copy which, with a couple 
weeks revising, I m quite sure I could have sold to the Post for four or 
five thousand dollars, but which was so shallow, so unreal, so sentimental 
that (featured as they do feature a serial, even a short one) it would have 
been very bad for Main Street. God knows I don t expect you to bear the 
responsibility for this, which may have been foolhardy. I relate it only to 
prove how vigorously I have been attacking this problem. 

This torn up, I started the story they have just rejected. I tried to 
make it a real story of business, and probably I fell between two stools. 
Fortunately the third story, which I shall send the Post in a few days, is 
of a romantic type, honestly written yet by its "go" almost certain to 
attract them. But meanwhile I need five hundred a good deal damn it 



had been hoping to leave all my royalties with you for use in the imme 
diate needs of your business. 

Of course one thing that complicates my magazine writing is that 
all my keenest eagerest thought tends to sneak off into my plans, thoughts, 
notes about Fitch-vshich will, I believe, correct any faults of "exterior 
vision," of sacrifice of personality to types and environment, which in his 
New Republic review Francis Hackett finds in Main Street. 

Oh, I ll get along all right, without, I hope, too much leaning on you. 
We re going to do, together, Alf, the biggest job of novelizing in the 
country, and that I suppose naturally takes a little more sweat and worry 
than smoothly issuing neat books. I m going, of course, to go on plugging 
at the Post, but I don t believe I shall ever again be the facile Post trickster 
I by God was for which, doubtless, we shall in the long run be glad. 

Nice note from Fannie Hurst, whom IVe never met nor corresponded 
with: "I am so deeply glad that Main Street has been said (and in what 
masterly fashion!) that the impulse to write you simply will not be gain 

Heh-cha-cha, them kind words is all dissimilar to this morning s note 
from Lorimer politely but firmly placing my short story back in papa s 
hands b God. 


December i 
Dear Lewis: 

Here is the check for $500 you ask for. Don & Spingarn and I have 
talked the whole matter over, and your letter and our talk, and what has 
happened to Main Street lead us to make the following proposal: Actual 
sales of Main Street are within four or five hundred copies of 20,000. We 
have contracted for within $300 of the advertising appropriation earned 
by 20,000 copies, and copy I am sending off today will eat that up. You 
know as well as we how good the prospects are for large sales the rest of 
this year and on into next year. If you will consider the enclosed $500 
check to cover January, we will agree to pay you out of royalties earned 
$500 a month during 1921. I think we are running very little risk, but I 
want to get the records clear. I hope that a balance will be built up so 
that this arrangement or a modification of it will continue for a long time 
and you can go ahead and write the novels that you ought to and want 
to, but we are making the proposal only for the year 1921, and you 
mustn t have any hard feelings if it should turn out to be for only 1921. 

What I hope is that you can get a short story or two ahead of the 

[1920] 53 

game during December and that our guarantee will enable you to plan 
your next year s life and work as you want to as a novelist. Let me know 
what you think of all this. 

Ever yours, 

Washington, Dec. 3 
Dear Alf: 

I am, of course, immensely pleased by your offer of a guarantee of 
$500 a month during 1921 (the $500 received to cover January), and I 
am glad to accept it with the prayer and hope that it will be much more 
than covered by the royalties, and that you will be taking no risk. . . . 
If Main Street doesn t go the 100,000 we hope, it will, I think, go forty or 
fifty thousand for a minimum. 

What I plan to do is this: Keep plugging at short stories till some 
time in, say, March, getting four or five or six thousand ahead over and 
above the guarantee. But of this time I expect to spend say from about 
January 15 to March 15 in Cincinnati or other Midwestern cities com 
pleting rny ideas, notes, and facts for FITCH. I ll be writing short stories 
part of the day but circulatin the rest. Then about April ist I can begin 
the actual writing of Fitch, and possibly before that particularly if I sell 
movie rights of "Willow Walk," which I have directed my agent to sell 
if he can get a renewal of the offer of $2500 previously made. 

Fitch, then, will be ready for publication either spring or fall of 
1922 I don t believe it will hurt a bit to have a year and a half or two 
years elapse between Main Street and Fitch, and I can t, doing the job I 
want to, get it ready before, 

I may, after next April, with my material all ready, go to England for 
the actual writing of it both because of the joy and benefit of that ex 
perience, and because it will actually be cheaper to live in Europe than 
to live here. 

Like all my plans always (and yours occasionally, b God!) the above 
is subject to change, but that s about how it maps out now. I shall cer 
tainly finish Fitch at the earliest possible moment consistent with proper 
work; I shall certainly not serialize it; and we willor shall! certainly have 
expectant interest from critics, bookstores, and private boosters. 

I m glad to say the story rejected by SEP which caused me to write 
you has just been accepted by Harper s they pay only $500, half of what 
SEP would, but this will relieve the stress, and in many ways it is better 
to be writing for Harper s than for SEP leaves me free-er and introduces 
me to better book-buying audience. And last nite I finished and sent off 


to Post a story which, if they don t take, Harper s certainly will So I m 
already getting ahead the surplus which, for safety, I ought to have above 
the guarantee. 

I more than understand your limiting the first offer of guarantee to 
1921, with renewal probable but not at all assured, and I shan t be hurt if 
it proves inadvisable to go on with it after 21. 

I am right now working on Fitch. Not a day goes by, literally, that 
I don t add many notes to my plans for it, and when I get to Cincinnati 
or somewhere, I ll be piling them up to be digested, selected, discarded, 
expanded. This, of course, I can do nicely while plugging at short stories. 
But when I start the actual writing, I shall do nothing, think nothing, eat 
nothing but Fitch, whether I m here or in England. 

Good letter at last from Hergesheimer. He says, among others, 
"Main Street is a courageous, a lovely, and quite a heart-breaking book. 
The detail and labor are stupendous and the felicity open to no question." 


As ever, or more so, 

December 7 
Dear Lewis: 

Just a line reporting progress. Baker and Taylor re-ordered 2500 last 
Saturday; McClurg 250; Macy 500, which is about the way it is going- 
like the dickens in New York City, and only beginning to catch on in 
the provinces. We have ordered another 5000 to press, which makes total 
printings of about 38,000. We have broken joints on every edition so far, 
so that we have not been out of it at all either here or at Rahway where 
it is bound. I think sales are about 23,000. We d print 10,000 now, but 
that takes two weeks instead of ten days, and we want to be sure to have 
the last 5000 available on the i6th for the business that may come that 
weekend. A telegram for 100 from Pittsburgh this morning; 25 to Albany; 
25 to Montclair, etc. 

Howe is pulling out, probably the first of January. The difference 
between academic and business life was too great, and the connection did 
not mean on either side what we had both hoped for, so it seemed best to 
sever it before it went on any longer. His withdrawal isn t going to mean 
any change in the resources or policies of the business; it is merely inci 
dental to our proper growth. 1 

Ever yours, 

1 The firm name was shortly changed to Harcourt, Brace and Company. 

[1920] 55 

Washington Dec. 10 
Dear Alf : 

Entranced to hear of latest figures you ve sent me. Sorry to hear Will 
Howe is planning to pull out. 

An aeroplane just came along into a nice open piece of sky right 
before my window and casually did five loops. How much simpler to 
loaf around in the sky than to write books for Alf to publish for Gus to, 
sell for the bookstores to get rid of for poor devils to read! 

As ever, 

December 16 
Dear Lewis: 

I have just sold an edition of 2000 sheets (of Main Street) to Hodder 
and Stoughton for British publication. We are a little behind in our 
records, but I think it is a safe guess that we have sold 35,000, not count 
ing this British sale. We have printed 43,000, and another 7500 goes on 
press tomorrow. Telegram orders this morning show that it is really get 
ting its legs in the Middle West. Too bad they were so slow about it for 
Christmas business, but it means the sure carry-over to next year. I hear 
it is to be the book-of-the-month in February Hearst s, which is also an 
assistance in that direction, and perhaps an intimation that you are on the 
verge of a flirtation with the Cosmopolitan Book Company, Rumor is that 
they have just paid Joe Lincoln $75,000 for book and serial on his next. 


Washington, Thursday, December 16 
Dear Alf: 

I ve got to draw my five hundred for next February. Can you send it 
to me as soon as you get this? The last five hundred you sent me was 
almost wiped out by my last installment of $358 on income tax, paid on 
the 1 4th. I have $42 in the bank, and forty in cash, and on Saturday Dec. 
1 8 I have to pay $200 in rent; on Monday $35 in office rent; on December 
27th $125 insurance premium; along with a few incidentals such as food. 

Harper s have now owed me $500 for a story for two weeks. In 

Wells s 1 letter of acceptance he said he was having "the voucher put 

through right away." Ten days ago I wrote him saying I d love to have 

the check in a few days. Day before yesterday I telegraphed him asking 

1 Thomas B. Wells, editor of Harper s Magazine. 


him to get it in the Tuesday mail. Not only have I not had it but I have 
had no answer whatever from him. Meantime he isor is supposed to be- 
considering a second story, one that I regard as the best I have done for 
a long time, but rejected by the Post. Also Siddall l is considering one 
finished a week ago for the American, and I finish another for the Amer 
ican tomorrow. Also my movie agent says, in letter received today, that 
, he is almost certain he can sell "Willow Walk" movie rightsand for 
more than $2500. And while all these beautiful things go on I have $80 
to meet about $600 worth of expenses which will have to be met before 
January first . . . and Grace has been going cold evenings because we 
can t afford to send $125 to Jaeckel to get out her fur coat, which had to 
be repaired. . . . 

It s all coming I ll be all right once the American and Harper checks 
begin coming, but meantime I turn to you again, Alfand I give all the 
above depressing data not for the joy of whining (not hitherto a sport 
necessary to me) but that you may know I do not turn lightly. This new 
$500 should, of course, count as the February check. 


Washington, Friday, December 17 
Dear Alf : 

It begins to break right again! Letter this morning from Siddall of 
the American, taking stoiy done last week for $750 and promising check 
soon. As this is a very short story, only 4500 words, as against the 9000 
or 10,000 words I usually do for the Post, it is at a much higher rate than 
the Post s $1000 per story. And Siddall is very anxious for a number of 
others-one of which I ll finish today or tomorrow. So, despite the fact 
that I still haven t heard from Harper s, this makes everything start right. 
I ll do six or eight stories for Siddall (they take less than a week apiece) 
and so be way ahead before I start the next novel be enough ahead so 
that, with this lump in addition to your guarantee, I shan t have to worry 
again till late spring of 1922, at least 

The sale is glorious! 35,000! And a start in England! Hope you may 
be able to use the Galsworthy letter in connection with that. Mary Austin 
writes me she is sending some copies abroad. That probably means H. G. 
Wells among others, as she is a correspondent of his, and this may help 
in England. Want to ask her to send one to him? 

So yiou think the Cosmopolitan Book people may get after me may 
offer me vast and indecent sums? Alf, they don t make enough money to 

1 John M. Siddall, editor of the American Magazine. 

[1920] 57 

get me off n Harcourt, Brace and Howe. Entirely aside from all questions 
of friendship and decent appreciation of the magnificent way in which 
you ve handled Main Street, I am quite sure that as a cold business matter, 
no one could do so well by my books as Harcourt. When the Hearst 
people get after me-if they do-Fll tell them to go to hell-as I have once 
already told them, a year ago, apropos of short stories. 

Gaw, I hope we can keep Main Street going all next year. I suppose 
we ll have to do a little advertising next year, and a lot of keeping after 
the dealers who get slack on stock, but it really seems now as tho there 
was enough discussion to keep it going. Frinstance, t other evening I met 
Jane Addams and the wife of an editor on the Manchester Guardian, and 
they both knew all about it. Same with Norman Hapgood. 

Now to work* I feel much cheerier today feel as tho the immense 
immobility, for the last week symbolized by Harper s, is giving way. 
Siddall is very keen for my stuff, and ready to pay. And every day the 
notes for the next novel go down in the book. 

By the way, I ve changed the name again, from FITCH to BABBITT. 
Fitch, I realized, would to so many critics carry a connotation of Clyde 
Fitch, dead tho he is. The name now for my man is George F. Babbitt, 
which, I think, sounds commonplace yet will be remembered, and two 
years from now we ll have them talking of Babbittry (not at all the same 
thing as Potterism) . x 

As ever, 

Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 2 1 
Dear Alf : 

Wrote gloomily to you on Thursday, acceptance from American on 
Friday, check from you on Saturday, check from American on Monday 
for $750, check from Harper s the long-delayed one today; $1750 in 
three days, so that I m able to meet all the bills and work again in a 
beautiful security. And Harper s and the American are both now con 
sidering other stories. And, after spending all this week on notes about 
Babbitt, the next novel, I ll do another American story next week. 

Next, and very interesting, is the fact that Vachel Lindsay has con 
stituted himself a committee to make the whole of Springfield, 111., and 
the surrounding Sangamon County, with 100,000 population, read M St. 
(This is confidential, but he says that he has a secret Machiavellian plan 
to make them read it as a preparation to reading his own Golden Book of 
Springfield. Really, he is making this a perfectly definite campaign!) 

1 An expression made popular by Rose Macaulay s satirical novel Potterism. 


He asks ( i ) that you send a review copy to his friend Frank Waller 
Allen, Springfield. Allen will lecture about the book, says Lindsay, all 
over Central Illinois. (2) Send a large bunch of M St s on consignment to 
Coe Brothers, after winning Mr. Coe s consent thereto. (3) Try to get 
H. E. Barker Art Store to take another consignment. 

Now may I suggest that (4) tho I am writing myself to Lindsay you 
also write to him, thanking him. Really I think from his letter that he is 
prepared to campaign for M St as tho it were his job, and at the very least, 
he will make the book talkd of. Doubtless much of Springfield regard 
their poet as quite mad, but doubtless also there s a few hundred people 
who regard him as inspired as I most certainly do! Lindsay s friendship 
for me is based not only on his own liking for At St but also on my having 
quoted and praised a poem of his in Free Air and that quote in the S.E.P., 
said he, meant more to his benighted townsmen than hundreds of pages in 
the Nation et all! Will you then please suggest to him your gladness to 

Gawd this has been a long and meaty letter, and I pity you, having to 
plug thru it, but I hope all the details may be of value. Oh. I m getting 
after Al Woods and his interest in dramatic rites on M St through Giffen, 
my agent. 

As I may not write you more than six or eight more times before 
Dec. 25 


December 23 
Dear Lewis: 

We shall attend carefully to the Vachel Lindsay-Springfield Illinois 
suggestion, but not until next week because the booksellers there will 
merely be cleaning up from their Christmas trade and taking inventory, 
and not wanting to see any more stock until after the first of January. 
We are writing to Lindsay at once, as you suggest. 

For a book and its publishers to have created a demand for 50,000 
since October 23rd is going some, and as far as Main Street is concerned, 
we are all entitled to a very Merry Christmas. I think I said in a longhand 
note the other day that we wouldn t stop to figure up the advertising 
appropriation until I got the actual bills on the third of January, I know 
we have enough so that I am ordering January advertising. I think we ll 
have something like $3000 to spend after the first of January earned by 
sales to the first of January. If the figures work out that way, I d be 
inclined to propose that the 15% royalty begin with sales after January 

[ 1920 ] 59 

first and that we use up the balance of the money earned on fall sales on 
the spring advertising. 

Ever yours, 

Washington, Tuesday, December 28 
Dear Alf: 

Bully ad, the rooster crowing over Main Street sale. And I hope all 
of you are now somewhat recovered from the rush of the last few days 
before Christmas, which must have been terrific. 

Interesting note about Babbitt, yours on the edge of the ad "hidden 
undercurrents of loves, work, training, friends, associates, shaping an 
ambitious man s career." Only it isn t the ambitiousness of Babbitt which 
is emphasized. He is ambitious, very much so, but "ambition" gives an 
idea of a man who climbs very high, whereas Babbitt never becomes more 
than a ten-thousand-a-year real estate man. He is the typical T.B.M., the 
man you hear drooling in the Pullman smoker; but having once so seen 
him, I want utterly to develop him so that he will seem not just typical 
but an individual. I want the novel to be the G.A.N. in so far as it crystal 
lizes and makes real the Average Capable American. No one has done it, 
I think; no one has even touched it except Booth Tarkington in Turmoil 
and Magnificent Ambersons; and he romanticizes away all bigness. Babbitt 
is a little like Will Kennicott but bigger, with a bigger field to work on, 
more sensations, more perceptions. . . . He is all of us Americans at 46, 
prosperous but worried, wanting passionately to seize something more 
than motor cars and a house be-fore it s too late. Yet, utterly unlike Carol, 
it never even occurs to him that he might live in Europe, might like 
poetry, might be a senator; he is content to live and work in the city of 
Zenith, which is, as everybody knows, the best little ole city in the world. 
But he would like for once the flare of romantic love, the satisfaction of 
having left a mark on the city, and a let-up in his constant warring on 
competitors, and when his beloved friend Riesling commits suicide, he 
suddenly says, "Oh hell, what s the use of the cautious labor to which 
I ve given everything 7 only for a little while is he discontented, though. 
... I want to make Babbitt big in his real-ness, in his relation to all of 
us, not in the least exceptional, yet dramatic, passionate, struggling. 

Why don t you lay plans to have Main Street translated into the 
Scandinavian tongues? So many of the characters are Scandinavians, and 
so great is the interest in America in Scandinavia, that it ought to go there. 
But I wouldn t think of speaking about it to a man like Bjorkman, to 
whom nothing good is done unless it is by a man named Edwin. 


Another most friendly letter from John Galsworthy, from Santa 
Barbara, California; speaks of our meeting in Washington, winds up "may 
we soon have from you another book baked as thoroughly (in this half- 
baked age) as Main Street" Have you got in touch with him yet? Want 
me to write & ask Galsworthy to do a quotable opinion & use his letter? 

My agent is apparently still negotiating with Al Woods about Main 
Street stage and movie rightsdon t know whether anything will come 
of it or not. Meantime I write short stories and make millions of notes 
about Babbitt. And incidentally an occasional note about the eleven other 
novels for which I have more or less vague plans! 

Happy New Year, and a prosperous one! 

As ever, 


Do as seems wisest to you about the 15% royalty. I m more than willing 
to go ahead on 10% as long as it s useful to do lots of advertising. 

Jan. 4 
Dear Lewis: 

I ve been so darned busy this afternoon I didn t get time to dictate 
this letter to you, and now all the stenogs have gone home and here it is 
only a quarter to seven so I m typing myself, one finger of each hand, 
to say: 

Some time ago I talked to The American Play Company about pic 
ture rights of Main Street, and told them to go to it and see what they 
could do. This morning they phoned that they had someone interested in 
the dramatic rights. I told them to take the matter up with you direct. 
The dramatic rights would, they tell me, include movie rights, and movie 
production would naturally wait till after the play and would be corre 
spondingly more valuable. If there is anything you want me to do to help 
along, let me know. 

Can t keep this up any longer ends of fingers getting sore. Started 
13,000 MS. printing today. 


It is not evident from the correspondence whether Lewis came to New 
York or whether negotiations were conducted by telephone. However, 
arrangements were made through Elisabeth Marbury of American flay 
Company for the dramatization of Main Street by Harvey O Higgins and 
Harriet Ford for the Shubert Brothers. 

[1921 ] 61 

Washington, Sat Jan 15 
Dear Alf : 

I enclose a pompous official statement of your share in play and movie 

Friend writes from NY that she met a bunch of Swede and Nor 
wegian professors (presumably in Lutheran-American colleges in US) 
and they all talked Main Street and said it was better than Knut Hamsun s 
Hunger, which won the Nobel Prize. This friend is Mrs. Frank P. No- 
howel of Islip, Long Island. She is the type of cultured, musical, poly 
lingual German- American with lots of money who is as used to Europe 
as to America, and she s not a close enough personal friend to be too 
prejudiced. Why don t you write to her, get from her the names of three 
or four of the profs who best combine influence with enthusiasm for 
M St., get in touch with them, and have them send copies of M St to the 
Ole Country, both to arouse general interest in it there (as a novel and 
as a picture of Scandinavians in US) and to see if there may not be one 
chance in 50,000 that we d get the Nobel prize on M St or a later novel. 
They are likely to know, and write to, Scandinavian publishers, and pos 
sibly even to the committee that gives decision on the Nobel prize. I pass 
this buck to you because I couldn t speak of it to Mrs. Nohowel without 
seeming egotisticaller n hell. 

Probably be in NY about a week from now end of next week-for 
a day or so on the play, with O Higgins and Miss Ford, then immediately 
duck west, but I ll see you. 

As ever, 


January 15, 1921 

As you know, there are now afoot negotiations for the dramatization 
of my novel Main Street, published by you, with a probability that fol 
lowing the stage version, there will be a motion picture made of the book. 
My contracts are not yet signed but the probabilities are strong enough to 
make it now proper to present the following offer. 

Though there is in my Main Street contract no mention of stage or 
motion picture rights, and though I could claim all sums accruing from 
dramatic presentation, it is my feeling that your efforts as publishers have 
so far enhanced the commercial value of the book that you have an ethical 
right to participation in all gains from such presentations which amounts 
to something more than a mere legal right. 

I therefore, in accordance with our recent conversations, propose 


(and this may be taken as an official addition to the contract) that Har- 
court, Brace and Howe shall be entitled to twenty (20) per cent of what 
ever sums I may make from the stage presentation over and above the first 
$7500 (seven thousand, five hundred dollars), with the proviso that unless 
I make such sum of $7500 for my share, they shall be entitled to nothing; 
and that out of the motion picture earnings, they shall be entitled to 
twenty (20) per cent of my share after I shall have made $5000 (five 
thousand dollars), but be entitled to nothing unless I make at least that 

Let me add that it seems to me that in this arrangement I am really 
giving you a very small share, and that this smallncss is justified only by 
the fact that by having money ahead, and my time thus kept clear, I shall 
be able to continue with other novels from which, I hope, we shall all 

If by any chance the present negotiations, with Shubert Brothers, 
through Miss Elisabeth Marbury, should fall through, and later another 
theatrical arrangement should be made, the terms outlined above are still 
to stand. 

Let me sum up your share more briefly: Harcourt, Brace and Howe 
to have 20% of my net earnings on the stage play from Main Street over 
and above $7500, which I am to have clear; and 20% on my net motion 
picture earnings over and above $5000, which I am to have clear. 

Sincerely yours, 
Sinclair Lewis 

Washington, Wednesday January 19 
Dear Alf : 

I ll reach NY tomorrow afternoon and be there till Friday or Satur 
day evening, I may call you up tomorrow afternoon, but please don t wait 
in for me if I m tied up with O Higgins and Ford I ll see you Friday. 

In the Baltimore Evening Sun for Jan 3, H, L. Mencken has a good 
second review of M St very amusing. Percy Hammond says in the Chi 
cago Tribune: "As an antidote to the brag, bluster, boosting, Watch Us 
Grow green sickness still epidemic in the nation, Main Street has not its 
equal in American fiction." 


By this time the success of Main Street wets assured, and when Le<wis 
arrived in New York on the 20th, his monthly guarantee payment was 
increased -from $joo to $1000. 

[1921] 63 

Double Duck Farm 
Martinsville, New Jersey 
Sat Jan 29 
Dear Alf : 

How s the book been going this past week? Play goes fine we ll 
finish by end of next week then I ll have coupla days in N.Y. & start 
West see you before I go. 

Have you sent to England Galsworthy s letters (both of em) & news 
of how the book is going? They ought to be ordering more than 2000. 


Martinsville, N J., Jan 3 1 
Dear Alf: 

If you want it & it s rawther good F. Scott Fitzgerald says: "After 
a third reading I want to say that Alain Street has displaced Tberon 
Ware 1 in my favor as the best American novel" 


Queen City Club 
Cincinnati, O. 
Feb. 1 6 
Dear Alf: 

Off to Chicago this evening 3 lectures there. Back here Feb. zist or 
22nd. Drop me a line & let me know how book has been going since I saw 
you on the 8th. Examine enclosed Toronto clipping with care (it s a 
corker) & see if you can t somehow use it to make those hellhounds in 
Canada sell a few copies. 

Note: Sam Margolies writes me that a relative of his met the great 
Gordon Selfridge 2 of London, who proved to be much interested in 
M, St. Why don t you call up Sam about this & send the news over to 
Hodder Stoughton. He mite be the cause of several thousand selling in 

Bully time, met lots of people, really getting the feeling of life here. 
Fine for Babbitt. . . . 

As ever, 

1 Damnation of Theron Ware by Harold Frederic. 

2 Harry Gordon Selfridge. Born in America, he founded Selfridge and Company, 
Ltd., London, one of the largest department stores in Europe. 


Sunday 20th (address Queen City Club, Cincinnati) 
Dear Gus: 

Will have made 6 talks in Chicago & North Shore suburbs before I 
return to Cincin, Tuesday. Notably that under the auspices of Book 
sellers League, on the i8th, with a lot of the trade present. They seemed 
to like it a lot, & Mcdn St. is selling fast all over town. So wouldn t this be 
a good time to try to get McClurg s to take 5000? They were out, several 
days. Carson Pirie had a big JM St window. 

About Sears-Roebuck. Not only was the Book & Play lecture @ 
Julius Rosenwald s l house, but he d read Main St himself & professed to 
be crazy about ithe used many excellent adjectives! Also he seemed to 
like me & wanted to show me thru Sears-Roebuck. Can t you somehow 
use his personal interest to get S-R to take an order? I think that if their 
buyer talked with Rosenwald he d recommend it. (And R. was delighted 
by fact that S-R were mentioned.) 

I ve called on several bookshops, including McClurg s, Marshall Field, 
Kroch, & become chummy. So this field will, I hope, be more favorable 
than ever. 

Sinclair Lewis 

Cincinnati, February 25 
Dear Alf : 

Because it is so out and out can t you use Octavus Roy Cohen s 
statement, "I consider Main Street by far the greatest American novel 
ever written"? You have noticed, of course, how Zell, Seedy of the Sun 
and Sister s^in-law are all being advertised as better than Main Street! It 
would be a very fresh, but might it not be an effective ad to say, 


Three big books of the spring season arc all being advertised as "Better 
than Main Street. 1 This admission that during the four months since it was 
published, Main Street has become the standard for comparison is received 
with gratitude. 

I shall lecture in Pittsburgh on March 3rd, and in Milwaukee on 
March ryth, and you might warn the bookshops in those two towns to be 
ready for an invasion. You can truthfully say to them that both in Chi 
cago and Cincinnati the added interest due to my coming was sufficient 
to cause bookshops to run out of stock. 

1 Merchant and philanthropist; President of Sears-Roebuck and Company. In 
1917 he created the Rosenwald Fund for the well-being of mankind. 

[1921] 65 

Between Walpole, Galsworthy, and Laski, we ought to get some 
serious critical attention in England, and I hope that Hoddeir & Stoughton 
know about all of them. 

As ever, 

Cincinnati, March 5 
Dear Alf : 

March check, for $1000, received this morningthanks. But why so 
brief and curt? Why don t you say howdy? And how is the book doing 
now? Pittsburgh lecture, Thursday, seemed a great success; and I was 
introduced to the bookstore men. . . . Asinine story about me in last 
McClurg s Bulletin you know I never said "My word" or "deuced." 
Still, at that, it s probably good publicity. 

I ll be here till the tenth, then, via Bradford, Pa., to Chicago. 

As ever, 

Cincinnati, Mar 7 
Dear Alf: 

Lectures coming (if you want to inform booksellers): Mar. u 
Bradford, Pa. The Literary Club; Mar. 1 5 Milwaukee College Club, @ 
Athenaeum; Mar. 19 Winnetka 111. (write Evanston stores??); Mar. si- 
Sinai Social Center, Chi; Mar. 29 Town Hall, N.Y.; Apr. i or 2: Prince 
ton, N.J. before a student organization. That will be about my last lec 
ture. Thenthank Gawd I cut em out! 

I have your letter of Mar. 5. Glad of the i30,ooo. x Good luck y old 

As ever, 

Dear Alf: 

Off for Bradford, Pa., then Chi, tonight. Gave a lil talk for John Kidd 
@ Pogue s auditorium yesterday & he sold about 70 copies afterward, just 
for a starter. 

I m to lecture for the College Club, Detroit, on April it; & some 
woman s club in Harrisburg, Pa., April 2. Both places will boost the show, 

1 Sales of Main Street. 


& I think you ought to be able to sell books in anticipation. Also Women s 
Canadian Club, Hamilton, Ontario, April 13. 

As ever, 

Chicago, Mar, 19 
Dear Alf : 

I ll be back in Washington on March 23, & stay there several days 
before lecture in N.Y. on the 2pth. 

About the second serialization. I wired you yesterday that I wish 
you d talk to several bookmen e.g. Fred Hood x & Melcher 2 of the Pub 
lishers Weekly before deciding about this. I wouldn t take any chance 
of injuring the sale, which ought to keep up all this year; & 2nd serial 
rights may, possibly, be worth as much next year as this, particularly if 
the play goes well next -fall. Or would the 2nd serial help the sale? I want 
to leave the decision to you but, with our perfectly good chance of a sale 
of 100,000 from June to December this year, for the love of Mike be care 
ful & take counsel. I back you up in whatever you may finally decide but 
don t be tempted by ready serial-money if it s going to be bad in the long 
run. . . . Isn t Four Horsemen of Apocalypse being serialized no<w, 100 
years after publication? Or wasn t it recently? . . . Wonder how much 
they got for it? ... In any case I certainly shouldn t release before June 
15. Do be carefulthis may involve thirty or forty thousand dollars. But, 
I repeat, I m with you when you finally do decide what will be best in the 
long run. 

Do you think it would be wise for me to autograph books @ the new 
bookshop of which you speak? Wouldrit it make the other shops sore? 
I m afraid of it. But if you re quite sure there s no danger of that, I d just 
as soon. It would have to be on March 2 9th, I think. 

I don t seem to agree with nothin" in this letter, but let s be sure about 
both these propositions. I hate to tinker with a good market. 

As ever, 

Apr. 8 (On the train between 

Urbana & Galesburg, III) 
Dear Alf: 

U of 111 lecture seemed great success. They ve all been frantically 
discussing Main St. Met a lot of the English faculty Zeitlin, Miss Rinaker, 

1 Fred R. Hood, vice-president of the Baker Taylor Company. 

2 Frederic G. Melcher, co-editor of Publishers " Weekly. 

[1921] 67 

Scott, et al, & made a hit with most of them, I think. I know Stuart Sher 
man liked -me. Stayed @ his house. Smoker of Eng. instructors after the 
lecture; then, from 12 to 2 AM, the Shermans & I sat & talked, me giving 
a hand to H.B.&Co. For all his Spingarn-Mencken complex Sherman is a 
fine solid fellow. See you late next week. 

As ever, 

Lewis arrived in New York the end of the following week and left almost 
immediately for Washington, from where there is a letter dated April 
1 8th pertaining to various business matters he discussed with Harcowt 
while he was in New York. 

Washington, Thursday, April 28 
Dear Alf : 

I ll probably see you next Monday. We leave here Saturday morning, 
and go right thru to Forest Hills, LL-we 11 stay at the Forest Hills Inn 
till we sail. 

I think I ve bullied the Wayfarers Shop here enough about their small 
orders so that Gus might be able to sell them a hundred if he dropped 
them a note. Introduced myself at last to Sid Avery of Brentano s and he 
was more than cordial. 

Are you following up translations into Swedish, Danish, French, etc.? 

See you Monday! 

Lewis was in personal tomb with the office while he was at Forest Hills 
until his departure with his family for England in May. The first word 
from him after his arrival on the other side was a letter dated Jwe 4th. 



Creation Abroad 


Cadogan Hotel 

Sloane Street, London, S.W.i 

June 4 

(Address % Guaranty Trust Co., 50 Pall Mall, 
as before~no cottage yet-too much London! ) 
Dear Alf : 

A bully time! Mostly bumming about London, dining and having tea. 
Saw Jonathan Cape 1 about the second day. Called on Geoffrey Williams 2 
and he took me to lunch at the Savile (where I encountered W. L. George 
and had a long talk-of course about American Wimmin) and had me 
made honorary member for a month; will also have me made temporary 
member for a year if I want. Nice chap. Tea with Harold Laski, whom 
both Gracie and I like immensely and of whom I expect to see a lot 
Lunch at Hodder- Williams 3 house yesterday, with Pinker* there, all 
very pleasant. Have a feeling he never will sell any Main St but I m going 
to try to suggest a few methods. Seen Pawling 5 a lot of times-he s a 
corker. . . . Then we ve lunched and dined with an assortment of people, 
and begin to have some feeling of London. Went up to Sonning to look 
for a house otherwise weVe shystered on that important duty! Luck! 

As ever, 

1 English publisher who had recently started his own firm. 

2 Of Williams and Norgate, British publishers. 

8 Sir Ernest Hodder- Williams, chairman of Hodder & Stoughton. 

4 Of James B. Pinker and Son, English literary agents. 

5 Sydney S. Pawling, partner in William Heinemann, Publishers. 


London, June 1 5 
Dear Alf : 

Good, awfully good, to get your long letter written at home. I ll 
write a personal letter to Don today. Hope he is all right now. Terribly 
sorry to hear of his sickness. He is one of the finest as well as most ef 
ficientof human beings. Glad you re able to take over the whole house 
at One West 47; that ought to add greatly to ease of working. Yon ought 
to have a coop all to yourself, and off the ground floor. How many M Sts 
have sold now, and how goes the second serial campaign of Aley? x 

I am now just beginning to feel that itch which means that I want to 
get back to writing, and after about three weeks more I shall start. I ll do 
just one short story, to get my hand in (it will take only about a week) 
and then get right at Babbitt. ... I think it will have been a good thing, 
this long long loaf, and will have quite cleared out the long accumulated 
weariness of writing almost without cessation for years, 

Our plans? We d hoped to find a country house into which we could 
move July ist, but the only one we ve liked enough to want to spend 
quite a time in is not free to August ist. We ve just taken that, after a 
long hunt and an examination of many other houses which, though it 
didn t produce a home, did give us many hikes, by motor and train, thru 
country we mightn t have seen, and did give us an excuse to butt rather 
intimately into a number of houses. . . . Yesterday, for example, we 
drove all over Surrey the Hindhead moor, Dorking, Reigate, etc. flats, 
then rolling hilly moors all gorse and heather, then suave farming coun 
try; and we looked at several houses. And last week we flirted with a 
twelfth (really) century manor house near Oxford, and spent a couple 
days sightseeing at Oxford (and lunching, tell Spingarn, with his cordial 
friend, Percy Simpson, a don) . 

The house we ve finally settled on is an early sixteenth century one 
with marvelous old beams and half-timberingexcellent bath room and 
furnishing, however, with perhaps half an acre of tennis lawns, garden, 
etc., right on the common (so Wells 2 can play with village boys and have 
his nose instructively punched) in the tiny old village of Bearstccl, near 
Maidstone, in the heart of Kent farming countryhops and wheat. The 
village is in a valley and beyond the old gables across the common rise 
smooth hills. Quelque platz! 

Meantime, we ll spend ten days or two weeks more in London, go 
for July down to a hotel in, say, Cornwall or Devon, with the sea for a 

1 Maxwell Aley, manager of Century Newspaper Service, 

2 Wells Lewis, born July 26, 1917, was the only child of Grace and Sinclair 

[ 1921 ] 73 

contrast to Kent, and after a week or two sightseeing, with probably some 
walking, I ll get on the job. 

Look. Here s something to remember. In case I should ever need 
money suddenly, I d cable you (say) "Cable one thousand," and what I 
wish you d do is take the money to the Guaranty Trust and have them 
cable it to my account here on Pall Mall. Probably I shall never need this, 
but we d better have it understood. 

I ve blown in a reasonable amount of money, including several grate 
ful quids on gins and bitters, Asti Gran Spuma(n?)ti, Chablis, and long 
Scotch and sodas; and after letting my wardrobe become practically non 
existent, I ve bought some clothes, but I don t think we ve been partic 
ularly extravagant. We still have a whale of a lot of money left, and shall 
not need to start the thousand a month again for quite a time. 

English hotel prices, just now, are quite as high as America, and so is 
food at such hotels as the Savoy, but otherwise things are very much 
cheaper. I m getting a suit for twenty-two guineas at one of the best 
tailors in town. It s true that at one time it would have cost only about 
fifteen guineas here, but for a suit of like material and workmanship I d 
be paying right now, in U.S., about $135 (bein as it has an extra pair of 
pants with it). I paid one pound for a hat at Heath s which would cost 
eight or ten dollars in the States. Our country place in Kent would, for 
that sort of place so near to N.Y., cost at least $250 a month, and we get 
it for nine guineas a week including silver and linen say one hundred and 
seventy a month. Servants still get very small wages from thirty-five to 
fifty pounds a year and found. On the whole prices seem to be enor 
mously higher than they were five years ago, but still only about two- 
thirds of what they are in America. I m quite sure that my American 
accent adds a bob here and a quid there but I haven t been here long 
enough yet to be able to tell. 

Of the coal strike there are curiously few traces. Nobody mentions 
it. Really if it weren t for the dry-fact stories about it in my Times and 
the fact that railroad service is about cut in half I d never know there was 
a strike. 

I know one thing, now, I think I d never want to live in England. 
It s fun, I do get some contrasts by which I see America more clearly, 
but oh, it s a dying land. No eagerness. The aristocracy absolutely as 
firmly ruling as ever. I d been told that everywhere, since the war, I d find 
a rude and resentful servant class. Nonsense. They re as meek as ever. As 
in the old days, the Derby, the Ascot, the prospects of autumn hunting, 
and the minor incidents of the visit of the Prince of Wales to Cardiff are 
so incomparably more important than any strike, any book, any edu 
cational news, any reform, any business news, that one feels only the 


nobility and the hunting set really exist. ... I had dinner with Oliver 
Onions and his wife Berta Ruck the other evening, and they spent all the 
time praising the aristocracy and cursing any force that might imperil 
its splendorthe coal strikers are horned and hoofed fiends and W. L. 
George, for very mildly sympathizing with the Bolsheviks, is some kind 
of a degenerate. 

We dine with W. L. George this evening, by the way, and lunch 
with Walpole tomorrow, then have dinner with Margaret Wycherley, 
and on Sunday we dine with the Harold Laskis. Last week Hodder- Wil 
liams gave us a reception, very nice, tho Frank Swinnerton was the only 
one present who much excited me. Others there were E, Phillips Oppcn- 
heim, William Robertson Nicoll, Berta Ruck, Ruby Ayres ( ! ) , Clement 
Shorter, Mrs. Belloc Lowndes, and so on. 

Lots of good luck, old man, I think I shall have to start writing a 
book called, if I remember rightly, Babbitt. 


London, June 2 1 
Dear Alf : 

Haven t encountered any new writers whom I ve wanted to grab 
yet; everything is, of course, pretty quiet because of the printing situation* 

Been having a good time. Be here for nine days more, then go to 
Cornwall for a month at a hotel at Mullion, then to Kent for two months. 
I shall start Babbitt in Cornwall. Had dinner and talked to some students 
at Laski s, taken yesterday by Laski to lunch of Nation editors Brailsford, 
Massingham, Hirst, Nevinson, et al there. AND so on, with some sightsee 
ing and last Sunday a wild lunch at Claude Grahame- White s country 
place, much booze and tennis and Ethel Levy and Marc Klaw, and the 
Duncan Sisters. 

Last night dined with Hodder- Williams (or rather, had him at an 
agreeable but hellishly expensive dinner at Claridge s, with Clemenceau at 
the next table, bein over here to get his D.C.L. from Oxford) and as 
delicately as possible suggested that I d love to have him sell some Main 
Streets. He said he could do a whole lot more if he had a lower price on 
sheets and I promised to hint as much to you, and here I am hinting and 
of course you never could guess that I d promised Sir Ernest to write you. 
. . Seriously, if it can be made to go over here, I think it might be a 
good thing in the matter of kudos. Whether he s getting sheets at so high 
a price that he can t make any money on them, I don t know; and natur 
ally I shall not butt in nor ever recommend any price to him that will not 

[1921] . 75 

allow you at least a little profit. But this I can say: He seems strongly in 
favor of the Lewises, and I d keep after him, and politely, if I were you. 
I think rny being over here will somewhat help the English sale. Hodder- 
Williams has really been awfully nicelunch and reception, which last 
resulted in an account in the News which I haven t seen, in the British 
Weekly thing by Robertson Nicoll, etc. 

I want you to read with considerable care the enclosed letter from 
Edith Summers Kelley an old friend of mine, former secretary of Upton 
Sinclair, first wife of Allan Updegraff, now married to a man who is, I 
should judge tho I have never met him, a charming companion with ar 
tistic leanings. It sounds to me as tho she had a novel here, as tho she had 
grown from the poetic yearnings she had fifteen years ago when I knew 
her best to real stuff for a good American novel. She knows the Kentucky 
background of which she speaks; her husband and she farmed there for 
several years. Why don t you write her expressing willingness to see 
some ms? 

We re to meet H.G.Wells and Rebecca West this week, and to dine 
with Hugh Walpole, Frank Swinnerton, Rose Macaulay. But after an 
other nine days of dinners and the like, it will be good to get to the sea, 
to Cornish villages, to walking and to work! 


Poldhu Hotel 
Mullion, S. Cornwall 
July i 
Dear Alf : 

Thursday morning we left London for here a delightful and easy 
journey thru Wiltshire, Devon, and so on; hills wooded or patched with 
colored fields, and a few glimpses of a radiant sea. 

Since writing you the most interesting person I ve met has been 
Rebecca West. If she proves not to be too tied up to Century I may try 
to pinch her off. Same with Norman Angell. These are the only authors 
I ve met who seemed worth much for us and with both of them I have 
merely sung the praises of HB&Co. and delicately suggested that if they 
should ever have a hiatus in their American publishing plans, I know that 
the esteemed Mr. Harcourt would be interested in them. . . . 

Sorry to say I have not met Strachey yet. Did have lunch with James 
Whitall just before leaving, and liked him a lot. ... I feel (and it s im 
portant if my feeling is right) that tho the Young British Authors of the 
Walpole-Mackenzie type have been of great importance, there is just now 


quite as much literary energy breaking loose in America as over here; I 
feel that the Britishers are rather settling down to a great smug content 
ment with their clever selves; and if this is true, our future as publishers 
will be, as largely it has been, with the Americans rather than with the 
Britishers. . . . Some day I ought to go out and make a young-author- 
visiting trip for HB&Co in America. . , , Good luck with Strachey- 1 

This hotel is on a cliff, overlooking the most glorious vista of sea 
and out-reaching cliffs along the shore one sees clear down to Mount 
St. Michael* We shall have some good walks. The hotel itself is second 
rate and the people look duller than hell Main Street s respectables va 
cationing. All of which is to the good because it means that I shall at 
once get busy on Babbitt; working daily till midafternoon, then tramping 
and a little swimming, London is really too exciting to do much work 
in. Smorning I sat on the edge of my bed thinking about Babbitt for half 
an hour when I was supposed to be dressing. 

We ll be here till July 29, then to October ist, at our blinkin Eliza 
bethan cottage in Bearsted. Now to Babbitt/ 

As ever, 


P.S. Also N.B. I still have about ^340 in England, even after buying a 
helluva lot of clothes, and the expensive London visit (down here it costs 
us only about half as much as in London) , and paying in advance for half 
the rent of the Kent house which we shall have for nine weeks. That will 
last me about two months more. But I guess I d better be sure of plenty 
of money here, and I want to keep my N,Y. account well ahead. So will 
you please have Don deposit $3500 to my account at the Guaranty Trust 
Co.? This should last me till mid-December indeed if the play goes well, 
I may not have to call on you for any more money at all till way long 
next year. Is it convenient for you to pay out this $3500 now? If not, 
make it lesssay $2000, And can you let me know, roughly, how much 
money is coming to me from HJB.&Gx after deducting this $3500 (or 
$2000)? I m getting balled up* 


July 5 
Dear Lewis: 

I Coronaed you a note from home yesterday saying how Don was 
and that sort of thing. 

Ho dder ^Williams, We have had two transactions with Sir Ernest in 
the last eight months: Main Street and The World s Illusion, and it is the 

1 Harcourt, Brace had just published, on June loth, Lytton Strachey s Queen 

[ 1921 ] 77 

most glowing example of negotiations after a contract is signed that I 
have seen in a rather long experience. It isn t as if he had been "stuck," 
but he bought two good books at moderate prices. He pays 50 cents a 
copy in flat sheets, including royalty, for Main Street. He should have set 
the book and paid us 100 pounds advance. I let him take sheets as a favor 
and because both you and I were anxious for the kudos that would come 
from prompt British publication. I ll show you all the documents when 
you come home. 

I am glad you hooked up with the Laskis. He is a smart young man. 


Cornwall, July 12 
Dear Alf: 

He s started Babbittand I think he s going to be a corker. I ve 
been working on him for a week now, mostly, of course, turning notes 
into a final plan, but also writing a little, and I find him coming out firm 
and real. 

I think that Babbitt is the best name for him and the best title for 
the book as well. One remembers name-titles really better than apparently 
more striking titles, and it so causes the public to remember the name of 
the central character that he is more likely to be discussed. I haven t yet 
thought of any other satisfactory titles. The following are the only ones 
I ve thought of: POPULATION, 300,0006000 BUSINESSSOUND BUSINESS 
ZENITH and none of them satisfy me. Are there any of the above which 
you like better than Babbitt? 

I have your letter of June zznd. Write me often. You and Ellen are 
really the only people who keep me in touch with things in the States. 
Terribly glad Don can be in the office again. Make him go up to Maine 
for a month this summer. I recommend Kennebago Lake. 

Your use of the (much appreciated) Robert Morss Lovett letter in 
an advertisement is a corker and should be of value. But I don t like so 
much the phrase "remarkably well-written tale" in the last part of the 
ad sounds somewhat as though you were saying wonderingly, "Why, 
this book isn t badly written-for a best-seller!" 

This is (and I think Kent will also be) a fine place for work. I have 
a room to myself; I get on the job immejit after breakfast: work thru 
to tea time, then go for a walk or a swim or both, and read or talk in 
the evenings. Not much doing here in the way of gaiety, which is much 
better for me. Walking interesting beautiful cliffs and sandy coves along 
the sea, and in the interior, charming old villages with churches of about 


1450 and thatched cottages. I m in fine shape & at once seeing real Eng 
land, keeping husky, and getting a lot of work done. Cheers! 

Harriet Ford writes me that Main Street the play is to go into re 
hearsal in NY about July 14, and rehearse three or four weeks. I do wish 
you d see a rehearsal after a week or two, both so that you might let me 
know how it is going, and because you might have some good sugges 
tions to make to Harvey and Harriet. 

Good luck! 

Cornwall, July twentieth 
Dear Miss Eayrs: 

I am writing you as my husband s English secretary: The chances are 
we shall, be in England not later than October first, so it hardly seems 
worth while to establish a cable address. I rather think we shall go to 
Italy in the autumn. 

Will you be so good as to call at Brcntano s and see what they have 
in the way of books on house plans, big and little, houses, Georgian, 
Dutch Colonial, and other suburban kinds? Country Life, House Beau 
tiful, House and Garden probably get out such books collected from 
designs issued in their magazines. Hal 1 needs them for his real estate de 
velopments in the new novel, and there are a lot of technical terms he 
does not know. Have the books as up to date as possible. Use your own 
judgment as to the most helpful. Thanks a million times. 

Cornwall is as enchanting as ever, but the people arc as dull as any 
we ever found on Main Street. We leave next week with delight at being 
in our own home, if only for two months. I am in the throes of finding 
a governess for Wells. Fancy forty-four applicants in two days. 

I am sorry to bother you about the suburban house books, but if 
Hal will write books of accurate realism 

Sincerely and gratefully, 
Grace Lewis 

Cornwall, July twentieth 
Dear Mr. Harcourt: 

Hal is Babbitt-ing away furiously in another room, and so I am 
answering for him your letter of the third, which came yesterday. Our 

1 Grace Lewis was accustomed to addressing her husband as Hal, though he was 
known among his friends as Red and sometimes Harry. Not to be confused with 
Harrison Smith, also called Hal. 

[1921] 79 

chief answer is congratulation on your great success not Main Street 
alone, but on your incredible achievements of the last two years. It is 
wonderful for us to feel that you are OUR FIRM as well as our pub 

I hope you like Kennebago as much as we like Cornwall. I wonder 
which of the three cottages we lived in is now yours. We used to get so 
tired of the "chops, steak, ham, bacon or eggs," but how we should love 
to have a waitress say that to us now. Soggy bacon, undrinkable coffee, 
everlasting unseasoned joints, junkets and stewed fruits, all served to an 
accompaniment of formal clothing and formal speech. The only redeem 
ing culinary feature is the shameless bar which crowds our table, and 
beloved bottles of some of Heinz s 57, which we traveled ten miles to 
get. On the other hand, the scenery is as lovely as anything around Ken 
nebago, plus the enchanting thatched villages with fourteenth-century 
churches upon which one is always stumbling, or fishing villages snug 
in deep coves, with ample teas of thick cream and jam and "splits." 

Hal works all morning and an hour or so in the afternoon. Then we 
walk or drive or swim, all the time talking Babbitt. We have just finished 
struggling over the names of the other male characters. And Hal has 
made the most astonishingly complete series of maps of Zenith, so that 
the city, the suburbs, the state, are as clear as clear in Hal s mind. We had 
such fun making the plans of and furnishing Babbitt s house. 

Our very best Maine and Cornwall love to you three. 

Grace Lewis 

Cornwall, July 27 
Dear Ellen: 

Tomorrow evening we leave here for Kent. I am, with enough walks 
and swims to keep in beautiful shape, working all the time now on the 
next novel, Babbitt. It seems to be going beautifully. 

Hopp6, the English photographer who was over in America last spring 
and who photographed a lot of American authors, has been trying to get 
hold of me both for his own collection and for the English Bookman. 
Just before I left London he snapped me. I am sending you some prints 
of the result. I doubt if I am likely to get anywhere a much better pic 
ture for newspaper use than the one with the tortoise spectacles. If Har- 
court and you agree on this, why don t you hold this one and use it for 
the Babbitt publicity next year? Certainly I like it much better than the 
other two poses the standing one and the one with face between hands. 

If you use the one with face between hands, don t use it except with 


some very highbrow or new-thoughty sort of magazine as, tho it is in 
teresting, the well-known young author looks quite mad in it. 

I do most awfully hope you re not getting too bored having to do 
things for me (for us!). Babbitt and I have only you, and H.B.&Co. in 
general to depend on while we re abroad. Yes, I want some other things! 

Grace wrote you a few days ago asking you to get me one or more 
books giving plans, pictures, technical terms, etc. regarding the kinds of 
houses which Babbitt would be likely to buy and sell in suburbs and in 
residential sections far out in cities. There s also several other things I 
need, and which I wish you could send me as quickly as possible: (i): 
The last copy of System; (2): The last American; (3): The last two or 
three Saturday Evening Posts (you ll probably be able to get only the 
very last) ; (4) : The last three or four copies of Printer s Ink. 

5 & 6 are trickier: I d like one or more of these pompous pamphlets 
or books which big N.Y. advertising agencies get out telling in phrases 
of pseudo psychology about their magnificent service. The more high- 
falutin "psychology" in them, the better. You might be able to get these 
by writing to several ad agencies asking them for whatever literature 
they are publishing about their service, etc. 

(6) : There is published, I think in N.Y. by the Realty Records Com 
pany, a thing called the Record and Guide, containing not only records 
of mortgages etc. but also real estate gossip and tips, which is what I 
want. If there is one, with such gossip, and it isn t too bulky, please send 
me a copy or two, probly two. 

Please thank Mr. Harcourt for his two letters received in last few 
days. This will have to serve as letter to him, this week. At least it will 
show that I m alive and kicking, and good and busy with Babbitt, Tell 
him I quite understand his opinion of Sir Ernest. Terribly glad you now 
have quieter office on second floor. Lots of luck! 

As ever, 

The Bell House 
Bearsted, Nr. Maidstone 
August 3 
Dear Alf : 

It was bully to have your letter from Kennebago. Lord I m glad you 
had the rest there! We re more than happy here charming house, perfect 
English maids, lovely old village and country lanes, woods, fields of 
hops and wheat, pastures, and the slopes of the North Downs for climb- 

[1921] 81 

ing and for views, I m really working hard from about 9 A.M. to 4:30, 
then tea brought into the gracious drawing room by the deftest and 
prettiest of maids, then off for a good tramp. So far I ve been planning 
planningplanning, in the greatest detail none of it wasted and in 
about two more days I ll start the actual writing, and be all finished, ms 
ready to deliver, before the first of next April, even with a bit of traveling 
in between. I ve written just a little of the actual text, and both it and the 
plans seem corking. 

If I meet Katherine Mansfield of whom you write I ll make love to 
her for you, but I m really of extraordinarily little use to you here I m 
seeing, in Cornwall and Kent, nothing of literary people or publishers; 
and while I may encounter some here, I rather doubt it and Babbitt 
won t let me run up to London very often, if at all. 

I m more than rejoiced to hear that you will be coming over, and 
think you are very wise to plan to see more of writers than of publishers. 
About meeting you: Probably, tho not necessarily, we ll go to Italy 
when we leave here, about October ist, and, after a week of Paris and 
a week of Venice, settle down at Lake Maggiore, and stay firmly put 
till I finish the book. (That place appeals both because of its beauty and 
because Claude Washburn will be there and would be useful to us, as 
he knows Italian and knows people, and is more than eager to do any 
thing he can for us.) I don t suppose you d be coming till after that. 
Well, I d join you in London, or in Paris. But why wouldn t it be nice 
for you to come down to Maggiore where, in more leisure than we d 
ever have in a city, we d talk, walk, look over Babbitt plans and ms and 
every evening get- reasonably mellow on Italian wines and MANY small 
brandies? We d have a corking time and one to the advantage of Babbitt. 
What yuh think? 

Apparently Main Street the play is going to go. You probably know 
by now that it was tried out by Stuart Walker s stock company in In 
dianapolis. I send clippings. But it s better than the clippings because, 
judging by Harriet Ford s letter received this morning, the company had 
only abt four rehearsals before putting- it on. Lee Shubert went out to 
see it and seemed enthusiastic. 1 

You got right! England does make good Americans of us or rather, 
not England but the thick English. 

I m awfully glad you re going to be able to be more to yourself, in 
the new office, and keep yourself for bigger things. 


1 The dramatization of Main Street by Harvey Q Higgins and Harriet Ford was 
presented by the Messrs. Shubert at New York s National Theater October 5, 1921. 


Bearsted, Kent, August i6th 
Dear Alf : 

A letter or two from you since I last wrote, and one from Don. No 
special news, I think, except that we like this placid old house and village 
immensely, that I m hard at it on Babbitt, and that last week I sneaked 
off to Paris for three days with Harold Stearns! Great time pure but 
wet. Watched Stearns with care, and he isn t half so shaky and drunken 
as we said. He s a curious, solid, enduring person, for all his dissipating, 
and I think he will have an ever widening future, I m for him. 

Fine letter from Edith Wharton. I wrote to her congratulating her 
on the Pulitzer Prize and telling her of my long and deep enthusiasm for 
her books, and she answers charmingly, with a rather more than good 
word for Main Street, She s living near Paris, and we ll see her when we 
go thru in early October. 

As ever, 

Sunday morning, ten-thirty, 

September fourth. 

Church bells jangling beautifully out of tune. 

Grace Lewis is writing this time, because after two days of playing with 
Mr. Brace, Hal is working to catch up. 

I think Mr. Brace was rather a lonely man that first clay at the Cecil. 
So it was a blessedly fortunate thing that he came down to us that very 
afternoon, to a home and friends and quiet sleeping and a brisk autumn 
day for our motor to Canterbury (which is the fourteenth century un 
touched), and just enough sight-seeing, and the final excitement of meet 
ing George Bernard Shaw. 

No other English notable has so gloriously come upand over our 
expectations. Every word he said was quotable, and Hal and I fairly 
squirmed with joy over his wit. Mr. Brace will give you, I fancy, all the 
details, and perhaps tell you of Hal s astonishing resemblance to Shaw 
not at all striking until you begin to compare them feature by feature, 
even to the two deep lines on either cheek, like sabre cuts when they 
smile. I know Hal will sooner or later buy a fluffy white beard and eye 
brows, and a mephistophelian moustache and a foolish little hat like a 
child s beach hat, and give an imitation, tho he can t do the soft English 
voice with an Irish lilt. 

All the laborious, fatiguing, time-exhausting planning of Babbitt is 
over and Hal s Corona rattles away all morning in the room above me. 

[1921] 83 

He seems beautifully sure of what he is doing, and I save him time and 
distraction by attending to as much of the mail as possible. 

All good wishes, 

Bearsted, Kent, Sept. 5 
Dear Alf : 

Two good letters from you just come. "Shall we say 15% after 
60,000 and give us $2000 more to spend on ads till spring?" says you. 
SURE! And still more for ads, if you want it let s try to keep her going 
maybe after the smoke from the Porter-Harold Bell-Lincoln-Curwood 
et al. battle, of this early fall, 1 has cleared away, they ll find us marching 
right on, and I m for constant insertions thru into spring. So count on 
me for any co-operation you wish. 

Grace wrote you about Don, etc. He hadn t a devil of a lot of 
strength yet, tired easily after much walking, but seemed quite happy 
and sound, and increasingly glad to be here. I think he was a little lonely 
when he first landed, but we had him down for a couple of days and 
that, I think, made him feel at home and eager to go on seeing things. 
I know how he was at first first time I ever landed in England, years 
ago, I was lonely and scared. I ll see him before the week is over; and 
we ll soon have him down here again. 

I m working like the devil on Babbitt, and it seems to be going fine. 

Far as I can figure out, there was about $52,000 coming to me from 
Harcourt, Brace and Co. on August 26. Is that right? I still think you d 
better hold all this to my credit, as formerly; and I shan t draw out any 
more this year unless it should prove necessary for expenses of running 
and that ought not to be more than one thousand dollarsif indeed, with 
play royalties probable, I shall take any more from you this year. Next 
year or the year after or both I ll do some more investing in bonds etc. 
I think I ll wait till I get back to America and talk it over with Jes 
and you before I do that. 

Our very best! You gotta come over this winter, and come see us 

in Italy, and have a DRINK two drinks 

As ever, and in some haste, & some 
grubbiness of having worked all day, 

1 Lewis was referring to the publication in one season of Gene Stratton Porter s 
Her Father s Daughter, Doubleday; Harold Bell Wright s Helen of the Old House, 
Appleton; Joseph Lincoln s Galusha the Magnificent, Appleton; and James Oliver 
Curwood s God s Country, Cosmopolitan Book Corporation. 


Grace forgot to tell you that I talked to Mary Austin (who took us from 
Canterbury over to Herne Bay to see Bernard Shaw) about her showing 
HJB.&Co. a novel some day. Houghton has her really original and differ 
ent work, and she s much dissatisfied. She says she will; it s left in the 
air but with a nice twist toward you-all and you not bound to nuthin! x 

Bearsted, Kent, Sept. 10 
Dear Alf : 

Spent day and a half with Don in town this week. I think he really 
enjoyed a bat we sat about Caf6 Royal, me drinking strong waters while 
he had just a mouthful of muscatel and listened in on my lurid conversa 
tion with Nevinson the artist and his Lady Friends. He ll come down to 
us for a day and a half or two days early next week. He s probably writ 
ten about Keyncs. I m sorry for any poor dollar-chaser who has to do 
business with these money-scorning artists and scholars! 

The chief point of this letter is: I enclose a letter from Evelyn Scott, 
which please read with attention, then write to her. I have, as you know, 
a great admiration for The Narrow House, and while you won t neces 
sarily share that, you must understand how really big is her promise. 
She will, I think, do novels ten times as good as Narrow House, her first 
book; she is, I think, precisely the kind of American youngster with 
promise on whom we want to build our fiction list. 2 Luck! 

As ever, 

When the Lewises left Searsted October first they spent time in London 
and Paris before going to Italy, There was no correspondence while they 
were en route. 

Hotel Eden 
Pallanza, Italy 
October 18 
Dear Alf: 

This place is easily the most beautiful I have ever seen. We have 
four big rooms, each with good balcony, on top floor; and on all sides 
look on amazingly varied vistas of lake, cliff, mountain, island, and towns 

1 In the following year Harcourt, Brace published Mary Austin s The American 

2 Harcourt, Brace published Evelyn Scott s Narcissus in 1022 and took over The 
Narrow House at the same time. 

[1921] 85 

either on the lake or fascinatingly perched halfway up mountains. I shall 
be back on the job day after tomorrow, and from then on 

This two and a half weeks lay-off has been good for Babbitt not 
only because of the change but also because I ve thought out some good 
things about it during the period made those valuable readjustments in 
the general plan which one doesn t always make if he keeps too close 
to it for too long. Shall be glad to get back on it. 

In Paris I made overtures to Wilbur Daniel Steele for the novels he 
is more or less planning. He may some day come over to the true and 
righteous party. Hope so. He has big things. 1 


Pallanza, October 26 
Dear Alf : 

We re really settled down here; we ve had some good hikes, and I ve 
been at work for several days. For a start I ve been reading over minutely 
the 70,000 or so words I had written of Babbitt, and it strikes me as the 
real thing, with a good thick texture. As always it needs cutting and will 
get it! I hope Don will have brought you good reports of it; personally 
I think it is, tho very different, as good as Main Street; and usually I can 
get some idea of whether there s anything there when I re-read. At least 
it s real, seems to me. 

We re marvelously situated here. The service is perfect, the food 
bully; and tho not as cheap as it might be, last week for everything (in 
cluding hotel and food, tips, taxis, several boats including a motor boat 
a number of miles down the lake, some cables, extra teas for visitors, 
this for four of us) it cost 3000 lire, or about $120! 

We went up Monte Mottarone with the Washburns last Monday 
and just across the bay are the Ward-Browns W-B is an architect whom 
we knew in Washington. So we have enough to keep from feeling lonely. 
We have delightful walks, boat rides, and four times a week a lesson in 
Italian. And WORK! 

Many thanks for your cable on M Sz s birthday. I cabled you Satur 
day asking for news about the play if it was still on and haven t heard 
yet (Wednesday 9 A.M.). I suppose that s about the ordinary rate of 
transmission of cables here noweven in Paris, a man told me, it took 
him four days to get an answer to a cable! 

Did you read Carl Van Doren s summary of myself and other novel- 

x ln 1925 Harcourt, Brace published Wilbur Daniel Steele s novel Taboo, and in 
1926 his volume of short stories Urkey Island. 


ists in recent Nation? I have written him, personally, a friendly but 
strenuous protest against his two assumptions: (i), that I am merely a 
disciple of Edgar Lee Masters in writing Al.St. --somewhat humorous in 
view of the fact that I have never sat down and read Spoon River An 
thology, but merely heard parts of it read aloud, and this not till 1917, 
whereas I first began to plan M St 1905; and (2) that I have always been 
a writer of "bright amusing chatter to be read at a brisk pace." I asked 
him if he had read The Job or Our Mr. Wrenn or Trail of the Ha<wk, 
or certain short stories which I enumerated; and I hinted, if I did not 
say directly, that if he hadn t read these, he had one devil of a nerve, 
and he was one devil of a bad critic, to dare to sum me up thus. . . . 
You or Spingarn might follow this up by sending him a copy of The 
fob and making him read it. ... As this rotten article of his is one of 
the first which pretends to sum up all my work, as the Nation is a journal 
of some importance, and as Van Doren regards himself us a serious critic, 
I think he ought to do something about it. I think he ought to do an 
entirely new article about me in the Nation. Think you could get him 
to? It would really give him a nice chance to cry "nica culpa" very 
prettily . . . and certainly he must change this if he s going to publish 
these articles in book form. 

In criticizing his criticism, I most carefully and repeatedly said that 
I was not maintaining that The Job etc. were necessarily in the least 
good; but that they were serious work and not "bright amusing chatter"; 
and that whether I have been and am a damn bad writer or not, certainly 
I have NOT been a tinkling chatterer who was by the mighty powers of 
Mr. Masters miraculously converted to seriousness. God! You who went 
with me thru plans of The Job and all the restyou know. Get after 
Van Doren politely, if you think well. 

As I had had some nice polite correspondence with Van Doren be 
fore, and been complimentary, I was able to write this protest without 
impropriety, I think. . . 

On the job! 

Our best! 


Why don t you close with one of the German offers & gamble in the 
markslet em pile up there. Like to have it published in Germany. 

Pallanza, November 5 
Dear Alf and Don: 

Your two letters came at once today, and much joy was had thereby. 
. . . First, before I forget it: Don t send any more mail to Pallanza. Send 

[1921] 87 

it again c/o Guaranty Trust Co., London, until you receive a cable from 
me. Then start sending to Rome as that will, I hope, be my address for 
several months. You see it will begin to be pretty cold up here in a few 
weeks, and we probably shan t stay after December ist. We ll go to 
Rome and stay there till Babbitt is done and I m ready to start home- 
that is, if we like Rome; otherwise we ll probably go to Capri. ... It 
may even be possible as there are not many people herethat the hotel 
will close before December ist, in which case we ll go to Rome as soon 
as it does close. 

Been working very hard on Babbitt. I ve now finished about 95,000 
words of the first draft, besides reading over, doing a little revision on, 
and making a lot of later-to-be-taken-up suggestions on, the first 70,000 
words. My guess now is that when finished, it will be between 120,000 
and 150,000 words long-i.e. from 60,000 to 30,000 words shorter than 
Main Street. I think it s going to be good. It is satiric, rather more than 
Main Street; and for that reason I think I hope that the novel after 
Babbitt will be definitely non-satiric except, of course, for occasional 

Hope you will have received safely my letter asking you to deposit 
for me in Guaranty Trust a new $1500. 1 haven t yet received any money 
from the play; and tho I still have almost two hundred and fifty pounds 
sterling on this side of the water, I don t want to be caught short. I sup 
pose I shan t get any play money for a little time yet. 

Weather bully here warm days, cold nights; tho it s dusty, the 
mountains are glorious, the lake ever changing, the sunsets as wonderful 
as on the prairies. We ve had some good walks, one long bicycle ride 
we found ourselves quite at home in the saddle, tho it s six years since 
we ve ridden. And one afternoon Claude Washburn and I tramped up a 
mountain and had dinner by ourselves afterward. 

Confidentially, I don t think C.W. will go much farther than he has 
now. He ll keep up to present level. But he lacks a passionate reaction 
to daily life. 

Letter from Edith Summers Kelley saying that she has actually 
started her novel written 20,000 words. 

We re all awfully well and happy. We miss only Don s presence, 
which we were lucky enough to have in Eng and Paris. We d like to 
show him two or three of the lovely islands in the lake here. ... Do 
write often it s incomparably my best glimpse of home, your letters. 
. . . Our very best! ! ! ! ! 



Rome, November 1 8 
Dear Don: 

All right sir, I ll give you enough pages to make a dummy right 
away, soon as I can get them done. I enclose hints for the artist who is 
to do the jacket picture. For I decidedly think that, as we did with Main 
Street, we better have a picture on front and, for first several editions, 
text all over the back. 

I doubt if I d have the Babbitt jacket in exactly the same color 
scheme as Main Street. Would look as if we were doing just the same 
thing all over again. But / do believe Yd have the actual cloth binding 
exactly the same -we ll try to begin to make lines of books, all in that 
blue and orange, across library shelves. I know I like to have all my 
Conrads in same binding. 

About the title: Certainly nothing better than Babbitt has occurred 
to any of us. Personally, I like it. It s short, fairly keen: and nothing has 
been more successful than names for titles. 

Yes, Pallanza proved glorious beautiful, bracing, fine. Algernon 
Blackwood was crazy to knock it, in Kent. I think perhaps he had it 
balled up with some other place or else he stayed at one of the dull little 
hotels down in the town itself, instead of at ours, a half-mile out, on a 
lovely point. 

Terribly sorry to hear about Mrs. Harcourt. How are you feeling, 
yourself? Luck! 

As ever, 

Grand Hotel de Russia, Rome 
November 18 
Dear Alf : 

I m most terribly sorry to hear, from Don s letter of the first, that 
Mrs. Harcourt has been having a rotten time with infected teeth, Will 
you please give her my love? Of course she may say that as a soother 
of nerves and of teeth my love is a poor specific, but assure her that she 
is wrong that it is being eagerly applied for by Russian princesses (now 
keeping restaurants), Fascist! leaders (now keeping quiet), and rich 
young American ladies come here to study singing or tatting (now keep 
ing parrots). 

Edna St. Vincent Millay is here, and I m trying to decide whether, 
as an agent of the firm, I want to tie her up with a contract. I may be 
cabling you about her, before you get this letter, and I may not be. Her 
poetry is splendid, and much worth having, and she is planning a novel 

[1921] 89 

But the devil of it is that she quite definitely plans to make this a novel 
that would be sure to be suppressed and she wants enough advance to 
live on for four months while writing it! Fm afraid that, not as a pure 
author but as a crass publisher, that doesn t attract me so much as it 


Rome, Dec. ist 
Dear Alf and Don: 

Have your recent good letters sent to Pallanza. No news except 
working hard. Like Rome immenselyglorious city, good hotel, enough 
people we know. I ll write @ more length when the revision is off my 
chest. . . . I m doing it, by the way, with extreme carefulness it may 
get itself read with some thoroughness. . . . I m dedicating the book to 
Edith Wharton have written her so, & she seems delighted. 

Till soon 


You re publishing Piccoli s Croce?**- He s here, & I like him & admire 
him immensely. . . . Have talked more to Edna Millay re novel, but 
she s a Tartar thinks VERY well of herself sweet, young, pretty, & loves 
Edna. f . . 

December 13 
Dear Sinclair: 

Wonderful stuff your letter of November i8th and its enclosures! 
We all gathered round and read over shoulders, in silence except for fre 
quent outbursts of "Jeezz, that s great," "J ust listen to this," and so on. 
Really, your descriptions are beyond praise. My memory of what I read 
makes me appreciate them especially. Everybody is enthusiastic only 
your presence could make us more so! 

As for the title, Babbitt suits everybody. Melville Cane 2 says why 
don t we call it George F. Babbitt. That is pretty good. The "George" 
and especially the "F" mean an awful lot. But I ve decided they mean 
too much. Just Babbitt is better because it can mean Babbitts everywhere, 
the Babbitt kind of thing, rather than just a character. So it s Babbitt. 

This is the last week of the play in New York. It s going on the road 
for a long tour of smaller cities. Don t know details. Have been trying to 
get hold of Harvey O Higgins, without success so far. The theatrical 

1 Benedetto Croce by Rafaello Piccoli, HB&Co., 1922. 

2 Legal adviser to the firm and on the board of directors. 


people are clams as far as giving up any real information is concerned, 
An American Play Company man told me they had refused an offer of 
$25,000 for movie rights. I don t know whether it s like Caesar and the 
Crown. Ellen s written you about the German rights sale. I m holding 
their check for 20,000 marks. When it came, it amounted to about $94.00. 
Today it s something like $120.00. Hope you don t mind my gambling 
with your money! The worst of it is that the results are so modest in 
proportion to the number of marks. 

All good wishes, 

Rome, Dec. 1 3 
Dear Alf : 

Day before yesterday I mailed you 57 pp., & front matter, of Bab 
bitt; hope you get it all right. Reading over part of Bab written at Pal- 
lanza, I see where I shall have to cut it a good deal; & I see that, being 
inherently more satiric than Main St., Babbitt must not be anything like 
so long, or it will be tedious. Indeed, I may keep it down to 100,000 or 
110,000 words. 

I think I shall make my next novel after Babbitt not satiric at all; 
rebellious as ever, perhaps, but the central character heroic. I m already 
getting gleams for it; I see it as the biggest thing I ve tackled. . * . We ll 
talk it over next spring. 

Good letters in yesterday from you & from the office. Merry Xmas! 


Rome, December 26 
Dear Alf: 

A good Xmas party @ studio with reasonable amounts of drinks 
& dancing & nice Americans & Italians on Xmas Eve; toys for the kid 
yesterday an Italian train; a Sicilian wheat cart with oxen; in the bright 
afternoon, a long hike thru the Borghese gardens. 

All goes well plenty of people but not too many. Don s brother 
Ernest (Brace) arrives here in 2 days, & I ve found a pension for him. 
We see more of Raffaello Piccoli than of anyone else. He s a corker- 
charming, intelligent (very!), amusing. You re publishing his Croce book. 
Please give it an extra big boost for me. 

Judging by cables, M. St. movie rights are to be sold for $40,000, 
out of which I ll get about $9640 & you about $1160. (Rem. Amer. Play 

[1921] 91 

Co. get 10% on all-drat em!) Play receipts to date have been about 
$1660, for my own share including the $1000 advance of last spring. I 
see b the papers play is closing in NY & I don t yet know if it s going 
on the road. 

Hope to God Sue is better. D you know, she and Hastings wd enjoy 
a month at this hotel some winter. 

Babbitt goes marching on. Hope that by now you ll have rec d the 
57 pages sent you on Dec. 1 1. Grace has been reading the ms, all to date, 
& seems enthusiastic. 

Look! Please send Gene Debs, in Atlanta Prison, a Main Street with 
a note saying I asked you to send it to him, & that I hope he will like 
Miles Bjornstam. 

Awfully glad you ve received & liked catalog stuff, etc. of Babbitt. 
Happy New Year. God bless you all! 


Rome, Dec. 26 
Letter #2 
Dear Alf & Don: 

Second letter today yr 2 just came in. Two fine packages of books 
came via Baker Taylor. Many thanks. 

Nothing more doing re Edna Millay s novel; she d already offered it 
to Liveright, & he probly accepted. 

The enclosed is from some South American paperChile, I believe. 
Very laudatory. What about a Spanish translation, especially for So. 
America? Look into it. Might be done in Argentine rather than Spain. 

I d change that "so honest & so interesting" ad line now. How about 
"most discussed book of the last twenty years-and now looks as though 
it might be the most discussed book of the next twenty!" And how about 
a freak ad quoting German, French, Spanish et al. comments in the orig 
inal languages? And This 


(still the Most Discussed Book) 



Rome, Tuesday December 27 
Dear Alf : 

Today came a letter from Dawson Johnson 1 about material for 
French articles on me, I ve sent him a little extra material Numerous 
other requests for biographical material made me suggest to Don, in 
England, that some time shortly after the appearance of "Babbitt^ there 
ought to be a pamphlet devoted to SL like those good little books Doran 
got out on Walpole, Swinnerton, et al 

It should contain a thorough biographical sketch of SL, written 
(and signed) by somebody like George Soule, perhaps, based on material 
I ll give him when I return to America; brief accounts of books before 
Main Street; extracts from the best reviews etc. of Main Street; some acct 
of the circulation of that book, of controversies over it, of the burlesques 
on it and the translations of it. Then take up Babbitt wh&t it is, etc., and 
hold pamphlet long enough to get in the first good reviews of Babbitt. 
Then shoot it out to bookstores, women s clubs, etc. and use it when 
clubwomen who want to write papers inquire for data. It might suggest, 
in small separate article, the study of both M.S. and Babbitt by clubs, 
schools, colleges, etc. Would be illustrated with several snapshots of me 
and fambly, and Hopp6 portrait. 

We ll talk this over next spring; see if it s advisable. One important 
thing is to get just the right person to do the book. Bill Benet, Upde- 
graffj and Soule are all possible. Or perhaps it should be someone who 
does not know me personally. 

Now for this book we ought to have certain material I foolishly 
haven t kept either Jane Street or Ptomaine Street. And one of the in 
teresting things about the pamphlet would be an account of the Main 
Street literature which is already growing up. Later it will be impossible 
to get hold of some of these. So will you please get now, and hold in 
the office for this purpose the following: Jane Street, Ptomaine Street, 
Meredith Nicholson s Man in the Street (is that the title?) with its ar 
ticle "Let Main Street Alone," Donald Stewart s Parody Outline of Hr- 
tory with its excellent M St burlesque, the Swedish and German trans 
lations of MS. when they come along, and any others. And later books 
with important references to M.S. And we might quote from several of 
the burlesques, to compare them of course besides those in separate 
books there s several appeared in papers and mags. But for heaven s sake 
gather and hold the above-mentioned books before they disappear as 
most of them will! ! ! ! 

1 Director of the American Library in Paris. 

[1921] 93 

We might have part of the stuff, especially the biography, run in 
the Bookman or some other magazine, during the coming Babbitt inter 
est, before using it in pamphlet. Heh? 


On January third Lewis cabled from Rome that he was returning to 
America, but that he might stay in London a couple of weeks. 

Georgian House 
10 Bury Street 
London, S.W. 
January 8 
Dear Alf : 

You must have been wondering what the devil! I found just because 
I do like Rome, and Italy in general, so darn well, and because it was 
so agreeable to go on long loafing jaunts that, though I was still working 
steadily, I was more than likely to get lazy. Some day I m going back 
to Italy and do nothing but loaf and play and dream, but I can t afford 
to now till the book is done, so I suddenly decided to jump north, get 
some cold and good gray energetic days, either in London or New York. 

I half planned to catch the Aquitmia from England on January 28, 
but now that I m here, I like it so much, feel so energetic, and have found 
at the above address so bully a service flat, that I may stay on here till 
late April. One of the several good things about it-I haven t wasted any 
time in coming up here because I m now just one stage from New York. 

I didn t see any reason why Gracie and Wells should come north, 
both because they re so well off there, because G is studying Italian, and 
because it may, perhaps, be just as well for me to be alone during the 
rest of the time I m working on the book. She may come home with me 
in the spring, she may stay over and me rejoin them in Italy. We haven t 
decided about that yet. But meantime, here I am in a charming sitting- 
room-bedroom-bath with good service, on a quiet yet convenient street, 
and though I got to London only day before yesterday, I m already all 
unpacked, settled, and on the job. Is there anything I can do for you in 
London? Let me know. 

Well, here I be, back next door to you, and I ll see you-all before 

many months, at least. 



London, Jan 15 
Dear Alf : 

Grieved to hear of Hastings s illness. Hope that by now he s splen 
didly well again. Gawd what a year you ve had, between successes & 

I m working beautifully here just the right place quiet and charm 
ing little flat, & plenty of people after tea time. Have seen Galsworthy, 
Walpole, Drinkwater, Geo. Adoore, May Sinclair (I dine with her on 
Tuesday), John Cournos, Beatrice Harraden, Wm. Archer, Rebecca 
West who is to make me quainted with H. G. Wells, 1 when he returns, 
in about six weeks. Doran here haven t seen him yet, but I lunch with 
him today. Seen Liveright several times; he s hustling like the devil, & 
hints he will bring home some big authors of older firms. Waiting to 
hear your reaction to ist 57 pp. hope to God you have rec d them all 
right tho I have complete carbon. 


January 20 
Dear Lewis: 

Just have yours of January 8th from London. Thinking that you 
might be sailing almost any day has been something of an inhibition 
about writing to you. When we first got word that you had gone to 
London and might come home, of course we speculated on the reason 
for your changed plans, but Don and I agreed that it would be just what 
you say it is. Bless your heart for your conscience about your work. If 
the second-raters who wonder why they don t get first-rate rewards 
would only realize the blood and tears that go into a first-rate job, 

When I got back from Florida a week ago, I read at once the first 
part of Babbitt which you sent over. It is sure enough good as gold. In 
fact, I think it is the best thing you have done so far the first chapter 
even better than the Prologue you have made out of Babbitt s speech. 
I wonder a little about giving away as much of your point of view as 
that speech does rather than having it grow out of the development of 
the characters as the reader goes along. But we ll get to all that when 
we have the whole book and when you are over here. 

Sales of Main Street the last six months of last year were 104,000. 
It s a comfort to have somebody suggest some new way of advertising 

1 Apparently the meeting with Wells which Lewis expected to have the previous 
June had not come off. 

[1922] 95 

Main Street. In the course of the last eighteen months, it has been ad 
vertised in every size of every font of type. 

I am endlessly glad you are so comfortably fixed in London. I know 
just where Bury Street is. 

I wonder if anyone has thought to tell you that Harrison Smith is 
working for us. He started the first of January; he is responsible for the 
preliminary clean-up of the flood of manuscripts that comes in and is 
helping me on the advertising. He is an awfully nice chap; I think he 
will be happy here and a great comfort. 

Ever yours, 

London, January 20 
Dear Alf and Don: 

Don s letter announcing arrival of first 57 pages just came in, via 
Rome, this morning. About cutting the Introduction, we ll see later, 
when you-all have read the book as a whole. I have already cut it a 
little, and as it so completely sums up certain things in all contemporary 
Babbitts, I d want to be pretty sure before cutting it much more. . . . 
I think perhaps you re wrong to omit, in the dummy, the dedication to 
Edith Wharton, however, because it might arouse interest. But it s an 
unimportant matter. 

I like it here, am working well, and may stay two or three months 
before coming home. 

The enclosed two stories from the (American) Smart Set Henry 
Mencken sent to me with the comment, "I lately unearthed a girl in 
Iowa, by name Ruth Suckow, who seems to me to be superb. She follows 
after Dreiser and Anderson, but she is also a genuine original. She is now 
at work on a novel" I agree with Mencken that Ruth s work as shown 
in the stories enclosed is remarkable lucid, remarkably real, firm, jammed 
with promise. I should certainly hasten to query Mencken about her, get 
her address, and write to her about the coming novel, in the hope of 
getting ahead of Knopf. 

Jan. 21, A.M. 

Cable this morning from Ray Long. 1 "If you have not closed agree 
ment for serial rights next novel would like to negotiate with you." I m 
answering: "Sorry serial rights not for sale." 

Oh. Had lunch and an afternoon with Geo Doran. He was at his 
most charming and you know how charming he can be. Liked him a 

1 Editor of Hearst s International Magazine. 


lot and, best of all, he made no efforts to grab my next novel, thus saving 
me a refusal. 
On the job! 


February 4 
Dear Lewis: 

Your good letter came this morning. I have read Ruth Suckow s 
stories and am writing to her. They are clear and tight. So few of the 
new people write well. I wonder what she is writing a novel about. 

I have a letter from Cape saying he would like very much to have 
Babbitt in England, and that you have intimated that would please you. 
It would please us too, I am inclined, however, not to make a definite 
commitment now. I should not give the new book to Hodder, He has 
been cantankerous about the price, though Lord knows he got it cheaply 
enough; after he saw the book was going, he should have taken our sug 
gestion of buying a set of plates and printing in England. Cape will prob 
ably not pay as much for the new book at the start as some of the older 
houses, but like ourselves, he doesn t let a book just drop into the hopper, 
and in the long run he would sell more, I think, than anyone else. 

I guessed that Ray Long was cabling you about serial rights from 
the way he telephoned me asking your address. You may be sacrificing 
an immediate bunch of money, but I am pretty sure you are not doing 
so in the long run. I believe, too, that Babbitt will be a better novel just 
because you know it is not to be serialized. 


London, February 4 
Dear Alf : 

Delighted, couple days ago, finally to hear from you your opinion 
of the part of Babbitt sent you* 

Alf, why don t you consider making your European trip this spring, 
while Fm here? There would be several advantages. You would then be 
free to watch Babbitt next fall; second, we could begin to take up Babbitt 
together, third, we could have a good party you might stay right here 
in the same house. We could go home together, say in May. Think it 
over carefully. 

As ever, 

[1922] 97 

London, Sunday February 12 
Dear Alf : 

The enclosed clipping further bears out my suggestion of the need 
for sending out a note about the new novel not being Zenith but Babbitt. 
Since people are beginning to want to know about it, we better feed them 
a little information. This suitcase story has also persisted, So you might 
add something like the following: 

A story which has recently appeared in a number of newspapers regarding 
the author of Main Street announces: "Shortly before going abroad, last year, 
Sinclair Lewis bought a fancy suitcase for his wife. They used it on a weekend 
trip up the Hudson and it was stolen on the train. And in it was the manuscript 
of Lewis s new novel! The real punch of the tragedy is that Mr. Lewis did not 
have a carbon copy." 

Aside from the facts that the stolen suitcase was not one but two, that 
neither of these fancy suitcases whatever a "fancy" suitcase may be belonged 
to Mrs. Lewis but one of them to her mother and the other to Mr. Lewis, that 
they were not stolen on a train up the Hudson, U.S.A., but at a station in 
London, that in neither of them was there a single word of manuscript, notes, 
or any other literary material, that Mr. Lewis always keeps a carbon copy of 
everything he writes, and that, finally, when the suitcases were stolen he had 
completed only a small part of his new novel, Babbitt, the story is a triumph 
of correct detail. 

I ve seen this stolen ms story now about six times, so it must have been 
used a lot more. Our dear friend Mrs. Dawson referred to it with ex 
pectant pleasure the other day. I see she has broken out with frequency 
lately. We owe her a lot for her advertising. 

I ve been thinking about your comment that the Introduction to 
Babbitt }\i$ speech should be queried lest it give away too much of him 
to the reader at the start. Well, perhaps it should be cut, as being too 
exhaustingly long, but I m not afraid about the giving away part: In the 
first place any sophisticated reader would, even without the Introduction, 
know pretty much all of Babbitt s ideation before the end of Chapter II; 
and second where the surprise is going to come in is that, being so stand 
ardized, Babbitt yet breaks away from standards, a little, when the time 
comes. And I do think the Introduction, as is, will attract a lot of atten 
tion for its portrait of the mind of a man like Babbitt. I like especially the 
Chum Frink poem. So let s not be hasty about cutting it. Often, in novels, 
these apparently tangential things prove to be the things of greatest value. 

I hope to have the first draft done in three more days, and I have done 
some revising. The final draft will be longer than I d thought between 
120,000 and 145,000 words. Anyway, it will be considerably shorter than 
Main Street, and the part I ve recently been writing is much more straight 


narrative, much less satiric, than the earlier part, so it can run longer than 
could all satire. 

Will you please send me two books: the Harcourt Short History of 
the American Labor Movement by Mary Beard; and the Life of Debs, 
written, I think, by David Karstner, and published, I believe, by Liveright? 
With them you might include the Stearns Civilization book, 1 and Wash- 
burn s novel I should be very grateful. 

Feeling fine, like London, working hard, all s well! Love to all. 


Still think it would be a great idea for you to come over here this 
spring. . . . 

London, February 1 3 
Dear Ellen: 

Many greetings from London. I write to you surrounded by manu 
scripts, my sleeves rolled up, my mighty brow beaded with perspiration, 
struggling through the last sixteen or twenty years of this damned book. 
The roar of the typewriters resounds from my outer office, my office 
manager rushes in with stacks of new material. ... At least, that is the 
impression you can give to anybody that inquires about it. 

Don t you think we had better send to that child out in Italy, Texas, 
who is going (and very sensibly, too) to deliver a graduation thesis on 
my life and works, some of the earlier masterpieces? If you have any 
copies of these earlier books handy you might send them to her especially 
The Job and Free Air. If you have lots of them you might send her the 
whole bunch. 

Bully weather here, just cold enough to make it nice for working, 
I hope you have gotten over being frozen to death in New York. 

Sincerely yours, 
Sinclair Lewis 

February 13 
Dear Lewis: 

Thanks for your notes. You must surely by now have had my letter 
saying how much I liked the first part of the book. The first chapter is 
better, if possible, than Babbitt s Prologue speech. There is no use saying 
anything more about that speech until I have read the whole book. This 
is going to be a great book about a man a living, breathing character. 
You know that when a novelist has done that, he can quit. If I had to 

1 Civilization in the United States, edited by Harold E. Stearns, HB&Ca, 

[1922] 99 

decide on what I have seen now, I d keep the whole book as the story of 
a man, and let it show what it will about big towns, small towns, or civil 
ization, or any other damn thing. God bless you, and heaven help you! 
If you were where it was handy to do it, you ought to have your life 
insured for some round sum until it is finished, both for our sake and that 
of your family. That s not such a damn fool idea. 

Yours much, 

February 21 
Dear Red: 

I have thought of coming over for some fun and work with you 
before your return, but the upshot is rather in the direction of not coming 
unless some further reason arises. We are becoming more and more Amer 
ican publishers; we have a heavy contracted-for list for the rest of the 
year. Keynes, Strachey, and the other real ones we have from England are 
sewed up either by contract or sentiment or something and I have been 
thinking that Don and I would stick to our knitting here this year and let 
the other boys play abroad. A considerable reason is the development of 
our textbook business $10,000 in January, and I d guess there will be 
$150,000 or more this year. And that means as much every year for ten 
years if we didn t publish a new textbook. When we have a quarter mil 
lion of that we are impregnable. 

What I d say now would be: You come home about April; let me 
read what is done of Babbitt over a weekend; then you and I take my car 
and drive to Atlantic City or somewhere, just talking it all over loosely as 
we drive. When we get where we are going, stay a week or two and say 
all we have to say, lay our plans for advs and for all sorts of things, and 
get our heads around it alland incidentally have a damn good time. 

Grosset wants Main Street for cheap edition in fall. We ve said a not 
too tentative "No." Play opens in Chicago March 5th. 



Feb 22 and Washington s birthday 

but they haven t heard about it here. 

Dear Don: 

Yes, I think perhaps the type and color-splash jacket is better than a 

picture would be. I can understand your difficulties in getting a picture 


that would not limit the appeal. The only other thing would be a portrait 
of Babbitt, and that would not be attractive. I ve been looking at the jacket 
as you sent it to me, last evening and this morning, and I like it better and 
better. Let s go ... 

You speak of Strachey and wonder what my impressions. IVe met 
him! -at tea at Lady Colefax s. I thought he was singularly unappetizing, 
with his watery beard, mild spectacles, and feeble voice. I talked to him 
two minutes, informed him what hellish good publishers H.B.&Co. were, 
and went my ways, content for to see him no morrrrrrrre, my love, 
con-tent for to see-hee him no more! (Try that on your baritone; it sings 
very nicely.) 

I think that between now and May it would be a good stunt to run 
a full-page ad of Babbitt in the Publishers Weekly, announcing it for 
publication early in September, and reproducing in one corner our ist 
Main Street announcement of a year and a half ago. . . . Gawd, a year 
and a half! 

All well Grace still in Rome-gets a bit lonely sometimes, but has a 
good time and working hard on Italian and French, and saw the new Pope 
crowned from a front seat. She says he didn t come down off the sedia 
and say anything about Main St, but otherwise the ceremony went off 
very well. , . . My plans as to exact date for return are vague, but know 
ing me I suspect that sometime between now and May ist I ll suddenly 
get fed up with London, grab a ticket, cable, and sail, and have Grace join 
me in US instead of waiting for her here. But meantime the work goes 
splendidly and otherwise I seem planless. 

Best to all 

February 27 

Dear Lewis: 

Congratulations on the note you wrote declining election to the 
National Institute of Arts and Letters. 

"Said Elmer More to Stuart Sherman, 
Let s clean up these younger vermin. 
All right, let s; they make me sore, 
Said Stuart Sherman to Elmer More." 

Though I think Sherman knows good stuff when he sees it-if his eye 
isn t cocked over his shoulder at his colleagues when he is deciding 
whether or not he ought to be let to like it. 

Don t think any more than you have or than you may in the most 
passing fashion about what I said about the speech which is the introduc- 

[1922] 101 

tion to Babbitt. I attach very little weight to my remarks in that direction 
as they were based on reading only the 57 or so pages you sent over. My 
judgment about that sort of thing isn t worth a damn until I have read the 
whole book, if then. After I have read the whole book, if I have sugges 
tions to make, I ll make them, as I did about the episode you left out of 
Main Street, and then you can be the doctor. 

Don t let these literary fellers drain your strength. It s a hell of a hard 
job to write as good a novel as the one you are at. If you were here, I d 
put you to work in a garage for a few days. 

I am thinking about your proposal that I should come over before 
you come home. I d sure like to see you. Just now it seems to me it would 
be more fun to drive around here for a week or two together than to be 
in the thick of things in England. 

Ever yours, 

London, March 12 
Dear Alf: 

You re right about not coming over but seeing me in US, I fancy. 
But I can t get there in April. I ought to bring you the novel in something 
like final form. I think I still have the ring of the American voice in my 
ears all right you must remember that I encounter a fair number of 
Americans here I m a damn sight more likely to be having a drink with 
the fine chaps from the Guaranty Trust Co than with the blinkin English 

You may expect me, with ms quite or practically ready to set, about 
May 1 6th to zoth, and as soon as you go over it, we ll beat it out to the 
country and talk it over. Grace will join me here about May ist. One 
advantage in her not being here is that I m working practically undis 
turbed till dinner time, then get out for a good walk. Another thing about 
not returning in April is that it s bad to stop before the ms is something 
like all done, because one relaxes and it s hard to go on. I had that experi 
ence rather with Main Street, after I came from Washington up to NY 
then Maine. 

I have your note about A.S.M.Hutchinson. I ll see if he knows when 
his book will be published, and I ll say nothing about mine. . . . You 
could get Babbitt out even before September 14 if you had full ms by 
May 20th, and if there weren t too many changes, couldn t you? I ll try 
to hustle out proofs-if necessary come to NY to read them, if I m in the 
country at the time. 

No, I wouldn t let Grosset have M St for cheap edition for a year or 



two more, if then. Yes, I d wait yet awhile before tying up with Cape on 

See you in two months! Work going fine. 

7 Luck! 


March 15 

Dear Lewis: 

I have just booked passage for Sue and one of our most intimate 
friends, Mrs. Dr. (Bill) Slaughter, on the Adriatic for April 8th. Sue has 
been gradually coming back to first-rate health, and some time spent 
abroad with this lovely old friend will put her on her feet. The plan is 
ten days in London; a week around the part of South Germany where 
Sue s people came from, near Mannheim; over the Alps and down to 
Florence; then back to Paris and so home about the middle of June. I have 
suggested that the girls stay at the Old Mctropole while they are in Lon 
don, I don t know whether they will arrive before you leave or not. Sue 
will have the latest news from us. I wish I could get away, but we seem 
to be unbelievably busy. Ellen is just starting for a three-weeks holiday 
which she sadly needs, and there are some questions about added stock 
room and perhaps moving our quarters and so forth that I hesitate to get 
far away from. 

We just have the Ersten Almanach from the Volksberband der Buch- 
erfreunde, Berlin. It announces Hauptstrasse ws dem Amerikctnischcn, 
translated by Dr. Baldorolden. There is an extraordinarily interesting 
two-page discussion of the book. x 

No time for more today. 


London, March 26 

Dear Alf : 

We shall sail on the Aquiwnm on May 13. I hope to have the ms 
with me, all done. I shan t write many letters to you these coming six 
weeks be rather more than busy revising. What advance sale do you 
expect on Babbitt? 
All well! Luck! 


1 German edition of Main Street. 

[1922] 103 

During this period before sailing there were only brief business notes- 
from Lewis. He and Mrs. Lewis arrived in New York about May 20th, 
and after spending several weeks there, Lewis bought a car and drove to 
Sauk Centre to see his father, while Mrs. Lewis went to Fishers Island, 
New York. 


A Reputation Established 


Sauk Centre, Minn., July 9 

Good trip grand car (4 passenger Cadillac in a fetchin beige) find 
my father well. I ll be here for a week more, then to Chicago via St. Paul. 
I am meekly bored here not aggressively. The town far from resenting 
M. St. seems proud of it. 

I m sending for your fall use two pictures made of me in Madison. 
The one at typewriter seems to me a corker. 
Lemme know how things are going. 


July 19 
Dear Sinclair: 

In accepting our proposal for Babbitt, Cape says: "I think that I shall 
print a glossary at the end of the book, and very likely ask Hugh Walpole 
to write a foreword; this will be good advertising. You might let me know 
what Lewis thinks of these two suggestions." 

Cape says, by the way, that he thinks the book stands a very good 
chance in England, and that we have a good chance of selling almost as 
many copies as of Main Street. 

It has been hot and busy in the office since you left. I hope both your 
father and you have enjoyed your trip. 

Faithfully yours, 

[1922] 105 

The Blackstone, Chicago 
July 22 
Dear Don: 

Your special delivery t j hand. Yes, I think Cape s idea of a glossary 
might be a good idea if he can get a good man to do it. Yd like to see 
proof on it before publication. . . . A,nd bully to have introduction. Tell 
Cape that if he can t get Walpole, he might try the following: Wells, 
Galsworthy, May Sinclair, Somerset Maugham, Compton Mackenzie. 1 

I rather doubt our living in either Madison or St. Paul-too cramped, 
both. Gracie arrives from the East this afternoon & we ll talk it over. 
I RA-ther think we ll start motoring East next Tuesday. 

Lecture @ University of Chicago last evening; afterward a some 
what spirituous party with Ed Morehouse, Brett Stokes 2 & coupla others- 
very sunny & salubrious. Luck! 


July 22 
Dear Sinclair: 

Had a rush visit from your wife yesterday and I hope that by now 
you are safely reunited. I am sending you copies of some correspondence 
we ve had with the Babbitts. In both cases I have consulted a lawyer be 
fore replying. The B. T. Babbitt matter is entirely safe. I think we are in 
no danger from George F. either, though of course the man can bring an 
action if he thinks he has cause, but our lawyers think that he would be 
unable to prove any damage and I hope my reply to his letter will allay 
his fears. I hope we don t hear from a George F. Babbitt who has a wife 
called Myra and who is in the real estate business! 

I will send you an advance copy of Babbitt as soon as you have an 
address that seems to offer time enough to be sure of its getting into your 
hands. We are trying to guard the copies carefully. 

Faithfully yours, 

1 When the British edition of Babbitt appeared it had a three-page introduction 
by Hugh Walpole and about 125 American expressions "glossarized." 

2 Edward Morehouse, salesman for Harcourt, Brace; Brett Stokes, son of Fred 
erick A. Stokes and salesman for Frederick A. Stokes Company. 


Chicago, July 22 
Dear Don: 

Grade, just arrived hot and dusty but safe, tells me of the possible 
trouble with Mr. George F. Babbitt of Boston regarding the name of Our 
Hero. If you have to do anything, why don t you do this: Make him an 
offer to put in each copy of the book a slip (not attached, simply slipped 
in) to this eff ect, say: 

The author and publishers of Babbitt regret to learn, just as the printing 
of the first edition of the book is completed and changes are therefore im 
possible, that the name George F. Babbitt is the same as that of an important 
Boston journalist. They both avow that the similarity was unintentional and 
regret the coincidence. With the millions of people in the world, it is impos 
sible to choose any name for a fictional hero without the chance of its corre 
sponding to the name of some real person, and the author & publishers do most 
earnestly assert that in choosing the name George F. Babbitt, the author was 
unfortunately unaware of the identity of the real Mr. Babbitt, a journalist of 

(Signed) Sinclair Lewis 

Harcourt, Brace and Co. 

OR something of the sort, to be OK J d by your lawyer. AND should you 
make this offer keep more than one copy of the letter for possible use in 
any suit or injunction hearing. 

Look. Gracie and I will be here till some time Tuesday. You should 
have this before then. Please wire me if there seems to be any difficulty, 
and lemme know what you want me to do. 


Chicago, Tue July 25 
Dear Don: 

I think we ll be off, tomorrow or next day. Here are some thoughts 
on the GFBabbitt of Boston case, in case it should chance to become 
serious, which might be of value. You might turn them over to your 

We can deny that the name of the hero of the novel is the same as 
that of the Boston man! The name of the novel character is given, specif 
ically, emphatically (see chapter near end-scene at Boosters Club meet 
ing), as George Follansbee Babbitt, whereas the Boston man s name is 
George F (discover his middle name) Babbitt. Furthermore (and this 
is at least as important in identification as is the name), George Follansbee 
Babbitt is a real estate man of an imaginary city called Zenith, a city of a 

[1922] 107 

type obviously very different from Boston; while George F Babbitt is 
a journalist of Boston. 

And suppose the name in the novel were changed to (say) George 
F. Brown. There probably, there certainly are many George F. Browns 
among the 110,000,000 people of the U.S. there are two of them in the 
Chicago phone book alone. Any of these people could then demand that 
the changed name be changed again, till finally it would be impossible to 
issue a novel with named characters at all! For there is no possible name 
for a fiction character which will not have a resemblance, real or imagined, 
to that of some actual person. Yet certainly all laws and customs, univer 
sally, do permit authors to give names to characters, interfering only when 
it is PROVEN that by INTENT the author means to indicate and INJURE some 
specific real person. And in this case the proof seems to be that the author 
is honest in his contention that not only did he not mean to refer to the 
real Mr. George F Babbitt of Boston, but that actually he had never 
heard of that person till this case arose. 

Mr. Babbitt of Boston shows prejudice by presupposing that some 
injury may be done to him by the use of this name in the novel: he must 
PROVE that actual injury HAS been done to him. Actually it might as well 
be advocated that Mr. Babbitt, of Boston, is likely to receive large adver 
tising and attention which will be of great value to him as a journalist 
(whereas he is known only locally, the fictional Babbitt will be, indeed is 
even before publication, known nationally and even internationally!). 
Therefore the publishers might, with as much reason and justice as Mr. 
Babbitt of Boston, claim from him payment for this invaluable free adver 

I m NOT really worried about this at all, but I do believe that it s just 
as well to take precautions, to be READY, in case Mr. Babbitt of Boston, 
obviously an agitatable person, tried to get an injunction or something 
which would delay the important date of publication. 


Broadway Inn 
Geneva, Ohio 

Dear Don: 

East ard bound! Ran into Geo. Horace Lorimer in Chicago, & again 

this morning in Toledo. Ast him if offended people whose names happen 

to be the same as characters in a story often write him. Frequent, says he; 

he answers with a good stiff reply that the circumstances surrounding 


the story-hero show clearly that he is not the same as the real person; 
& this, Lorimer says, usually closes the incident. 
Fine easy tug. 


After exploring the possibility of renting a house in Madison or St. Paul, 
the Lewises decided on Hartford, Connecticut. Mid~August they found a 
house near the golf club. While living in Hartford, Lewis visited New 
York frequently. 

25 Belknap Road, 
Hartford, Connecticut 
September third. 
Dear Alfred Harcourt: 

After reading the Stuart Sherman essay, 1 I should have kicked off 
two slippers, except that kicking off one is more effective. As the eight- 
year-old wife of Sinclair Lewis, I bear witness to the exceptional, and 
true, understanding of Hal in this article. It is just as right as right can be, 
except possibly the influence of B ovary, 1 don t think Hal had read 
Bovary until after Main Street was finished. But I am not sure. Of course, 
I love the impressive seriousness with which Mr. Sherman dissects Hal s 

And how wise of you to get out the booklet at once. Hal may be in 
your office as you are reading this note. So I shall retain this manuscript. 
Do come up soon. Come back with Hal, if you can. Aren t you really and 
truly thrilled about September fourteenth? 2 
On with the dance! 

Grace Lewis 

t September n 
Dear Red: 

What news there is is good. Doc Smyth a telephoned that he has a 
fine review from May Sinclair. McLeod 4 has telegraphed for 2500 more 
Babbitt for Canada. I ll have the total of the advance orders the end of the 
week, and let you know exactly what s the upshot of all the fuss. You 
know that my guess is 200,000 before New Year s. 

1 The Significance of Sinclair Lewis, HB&Co., 1922. 

2 Publication date of Babbitt. 

8 Clifford Smyth. Editor of New York Times Book Review. 

4 George J. McLeod, Ltd., Canadian agents for Harcourt, Brace. 

[1922] 109 

I had a mean cold and stayed home most of last week after you left. 
It gave me a chance to read The Job at leisure. There is a good deal in it 
you will never be ashamed of. There are a lot of women who have come 
on since 1917 who will "love" that book. Except for a little airing of your 
private views here and there, I didn t let go of it until Chapter XIII. From 
Chapter XIII the book wants to be pointed a little more toward the job 
and a little less toward Una s life outside the job and S.L. s ideas toward 
life in general. 

Hope you like the new home. 


September 13 
Dear Red: 

Yesterday I read some of a manuscript which had rather full refer 
ences to Disraeli and his political novels, and recalled Henry Adams and 
his Democracy. All this made me realize that there had been no really 
good serious novel of Washington national and international life for the 
forty years since Democracy was published. How about casting your eye 
that way for a theme? A real and honest picture. Of course there can be 
a woman in it with at least a promise of what women may mean in polit 
ical life. Perhaps the action might be mainly confined to the U. S. Senate. 
If you don t write that book sometime, Grace will. It would be a great 
stunt to have that job done right once, and the international audience 
would be large. 

Upton Sinclair sends us a carbon of his Appeal to Reason review. 
It s bully. Maurice x of the Herald phoned that Owen Johnson s review 
was so good that if I didn t acknowledge it was the best review of Babbitt 
he d buy me a lunch. It s lining up just right. You ll have them all flopping 
to get right side up first by next Monday. There has been just enough 
silence, delay, knocks, soft answers, and enthusiasm to catch the press part 
just right. Right-o! Stay home, take it easy, and keep quiet. 

200,000 before Christmas, Son! It s a damn good book. Nuf sed. 

Ever yours, 

Harcourt kept Lewis informed of sales, reviews, etc.> in this period imme 
diately folio-wing publication of Babbitt, and there ^ere brief letters in 
return from Le*wis. 

i Arthur Bardett Maurice, literary editor of the New York Herald. 


Hartford, Sept. 26 
Dear Alf : 

Herewith important tidings. I enclose authorization for you to close 
Babbitt movie deal at $50,000. If it prove, later, that we can t get this, I ll 
make out new authorization at a lower sum. 

I enclose a letter from Clifford Smyth. I wonder if you couldn t quote 
this; I think he might consent. And, most important, copy of a letter from 
H. G. Wells. Do you want to cable asking him to reply collect whether 
he d be willing to let us quote it? He might not be but, a la Galsworthy 
with Main Street, he might be willing to give us a few words to quote. 
Use your judgment about this, only don t quote without getting per 
mission. I fancy Wells is (very properly) touchy. 

I m very grateful to you for your work on movie rights. Oh. Better 
send a copy of Wells s letter to Cape. And have you sent him the May 
Sinclair review from the Times? 

I ll be in NY some time about October 8, on my way West to lecture. 
I don t believe it s really necessary for me to be there to wind up negoti 
ations with Warner Bros., but if you should need me of course I ll come 
on the jump. 


Hartford, Sept. 27 
Dear Alf: 

Here s a chance for a couple of big books. Mrs. W, S. Cowles, of 
Farmington, Conn., wife of retired Admiral Cowles, and sister of Theo 
dore Roosevelt, has what is probably the most complete collection of 
Roosevelt letters extant. She seems to have been his favorite sister. The 
letters extend from before he went to college till within a week of his 
death. They give a complete view of the man and his times. She is think 
ing of having them edited (to leave out certain purely personal para 
graphs) and published. I m sure we could get them. She knows and is very 
fond of Hal Smith whose uncle, Winchell, lives in Farmington, If you re 
interested, you d better send Hal up to see her and make arrangements. 
She d probably have unpublished Roosevelt pictures also, 

Also, by coincidence she has something else equally interesting the 
diary of a little Cowles girl kept from 1797 to 1802, still in her hand 
writing. It gives a marvelous view of the customs of the day it s unusu 
ally frank. She wrote it in the same house in which the Cowleses now 
live, a fine old house with lovely rooms, and the book would be illustrated 
with views of the house and other houses, hills about, etc. as mentioned 

[1922] 111 

in the diary. Hal could take care of this also. Talk it over with him. 
I think it s a double chance. 


September 27 
Dear Red: 

Wallace Munro has had me on the phone on and off for the last 
forty-eight hours on the dramatic rights of Babbitt. I have heard of him 
as the producer of Faust and such, and he refers to Winchell Smith. Hal 
Smith says you can get W. Smith on the telephone at his home in Farm- 
ington, or drive out and see him and find out about this man. What shall 
we do about this sort of thing? You see you have written a great book, 
and these marginal rights are going to be sought after by folks who recog 
nize what is in the book. The sale of the book is going to head it all up 
rapidly. It may all get settled before you go off on your lecture. But if it 
should not, I think it is important that someone easily accessible should be 
able to do the business. 

I am getting a clear notion that there is a chance for Babbitt to be an 
extraordinary success in England. The reports of you have made your 
name familiar all over the place, and you can be sure the book that has 
the backing of such people as Wells and May Sinclair and Cape accord 
ing to contract with money to spend on it is apt to get away to what 
ever market there is for such a book in England. It may be rather large, 
especially at a time when they realize it is important for them to under 
stand what sort of folks Americans are. 

I have not been unmindful of your suggestion that we drive up for a 
weekend at Hartford. It would be great fun. I have been hoping we could 
do it, but Ellen Eayrs is on a three-weeks business trip out West, and we 
are unbelievably busy. So I can t make promises to get away early on 
Saturdays. Also I am afraid the trip would be more than Sue is up to just 
yet, although she is improving. I am not working so killingly hard as a 
year ago, but while there are so many irons in the fire in so many direc 
tions, I find questions every few minutes that only I can answer. 

Babbitt re-orders are beginning to come in. We can t tell for sure 
whether it is a forced sale from the reviews and advertising, and your 
reputation, etc., or whether there is a spontaneous comeback from people 
who have reafl the book and told other folks about it. 



Hartford, Thursday Sept 28 

Dear Alf : 

My feeling is that it s folly to have Babbitt dramatized at all, because 
then the manager, the dramatists, and everybody else who isn t busy rob 
bing someone else dips into the movie rights, and in the long run, as 
happened with Main Street, I actually lose by having the thing dramatized 
instead of just selling movies from the book. If Munro or anybody else 
wants to buy drama AND movie rights together for, say, $60,000, cash 
money, due January 2, 1923, on note signed by financially responsible 
persons, they can have em. Ask Munro why he doesn t combine with 
some movie company in making such a gamble. And actually I d take 
$50,000 for drama and movie rights combined, and then not have to do 
any more fussing and rowing about it. 

I m quite willing to stand behind you if you make any reasonable 
bargain on my behalf only remember that if the book is to be sold as a 
play, I will not give up one cent of movie money to the manager or any 
body else. About that I m going to be hoggish. If it s worth anything to 
them as a play, then there s no reason why they SHOULD have anything on 
the movies. If it s not worth anything as a play, why should they want it? 

I think I ll come down to New York next Monday and stay over 
night, and then we can take up together whatever has come up. 

I have a note from Hugh Walpole, who is staying at the Waldorf. 
I m sure you could get a nice blurb about Babbitt from him. In his note, 
he says merely that he likes it better than Main Street. A word from him 
would be of value now, when he is starting off lecturing. He leaves Satur 
day, so nail him quick. 



If Bab has a chance for English success, Cape ought to buy M. St. now. 
Suggest it. 

September 29 
Dear Red: 

Through some unaccountable quirk of reticence, I don t like just to 
blow in or write Hugh Walpole for something we can quote about Bab 
bitt. He is apt to do so incidentally in an interview or article soon, and 
then we can quote him that way. 

I agree completely that you should keep the dramatic and the movie 
rights of Babbitt separate. I wish you had done it with Maih Street. 


[1922] 113 

Lewis went to New York on October 2nd, stayed overnight, and returned 
to Hartford. He left Hartford again in time to keep his first lecture date, 
which was in Detroit on October 22th. There was no correspondence 
while he was lecturing, and Lewis s next letter to his publishers was dated 
November 6th. 

Hartford, Nov 6 
Dear Alf : 

Note Canby s letter enclosed. If you d like, he d probably let you 
quote it or, better, he d probably write something more quotable to the 
same effect about Bab sticking to his ribs some time after reading it. 

Walpole writes me that St. John Ervine writes him from London that 
it looks as though his Cathedral and my Babbitt would be THE two books 
of the season in London. As I recall, it s one hell of a time since any 
American book has been a "the" book in England. 


Hartford, Nov. 9 
Dear Alf: 

Gracie has been reading The Job & is strongly opposed to our repub- 
lishing it. First (says she) it is in so many places amateurish that rewriting 
wouldn t save it, and more important, everything in The Job has been said 
again, & better, in M. St. & Babbitt everything except Mother-and- 
daughter. What you think? I d hate to have us damned by a fluke here. 


Hartford, November 10 
Dear Don: 

J. Henry! This man Feipel 1 is a wonder to catch all these after 
rather unusually careful proofreading not only by myself and my wife 
but also by two or three professionals at Quinn s! You ought to hire him 
to go over page proofs. But NOT to make all the corrections he wants to, 
because he too falls down. It gives me a devilish pleasure, after he has so 
adequately got the goods on me, to get em on him. E.G. Bertrand Shaw 
is, of course, an intentional error; and I see no reason why rathskeller 
should be capitalized, even though it would be, as a noun, in German. 
(Gawd, Feipel has me nervous about hyphens!) 

1 Louis N. Feipel, of Brooklyn, New York, who made a hobby of proofreading 
already-published books. 


Yes, "areoplane" is facetious and "lisped in blueprints" is all right, 
though when it gets queried it doesn t sound so DAMN humorous. 

There s another correction-the one pointed out in Keith Preston s l 
column-page 121 "I tip my benny to him" is wrong-benny means over 
coat. But whatnell is hat? Is it kelly? Or kelley? I wish you d call up 
F.P.A. about this, and change in accordance with his decision-he s very 
accurate about slang. 
Oh Gawd. 

Yours for light beers and wines, 
Or would Feipel make it yours for 
beers and light wines, or beer and 
light wines, or light wines and beer, 
or light wines and beers, or light 
wine and beer, or light wine and 
beers or 

Hartford, Nov 1 3 

Dear Alf : 

I think that, if you wished, Zona Gale would let you quote from her 
letter, or write you something else to quote. 

I wish you d have Hal Smith take you out with Charlotte Dean to 
lunch, and see what job you think she d be qualified for, if she hasn t yet 
got one since leaving Harper s. She has a corking mind and personality; 
she ought to be of value; and she knows how to write publicity. 


November 14 
Dear Red: 

By now you have two sets of our edition of the earlier novels. They 
look pretty good to me, and when I saw them in a row, I had the clear 
hunch that the thing to do was to sell what we could of them as is to such 
as want them. This jibes with Grace s notion that it would be unwise to 
revamp The Job. The crudities in it will not work against your reputation 
if it is let out onto the market as an earlier book while your rep will get 
full credit for the mother and daughter portion and the many other 

1 Columnist and critic on the Chicago Daily News. 

[1922] 1 15 

honest pieces in it. Revamping it would mean rewriting it quite seriously, 
and you could do a new novel with pretty nearly the same amount of 
effort. The thing for you to do about all these questions is what you are 
ripe to do and what you want to do. If you want really to rewrite this 
book, we ought not to let it out any farther than we have to in its present 
form; if you don t want to, we might as well have what money there is in 
these earlier books as earlier books. I shouldn t be surprised if we should 
sell twenty or thirty thousand as they are. 

I didn t know that Charlotte Dean was out of Harper s. There isn t a 
ghost of a chance for her here. We have a big and rather expensive staff 
now; thank heaven, it deserves to be expensive. It handled $118,000 busi 
ness last month without a crack which is at the rate of a million and a 
quarter a year. That means we have too much of a crowd for the inevi 
table $50,000 months, and we must not expand until we are permanently 
on something more than a million dollar basis. Also we haven t room for 
any decent or indecent person to sit in these quarters and we won t have 
new quarters until next summer. 


Hartford, Nov. 15 
Dear Alf: 

The two sets of your edition of the earlier books have come. They 
look corking much better than in original format. Yes, I think I d better 
not rewrite any of them; do what you can with them as earlier books. 
Next spring we might advertise them just a little. Eh? 


November 17 
Dear Red: 

Warner, the President of Warner Brothers, is going to Chicago this 
afternoon, but he has paid $2500 to bind the bargain, and his lawyer and 
Melville are going ahead to clean up the contract (for Babbitt). 

So the sale is made. Warner raised the question of dramatic rights 
yesterday, saying that he might want to buy them also because he was 
thinking of beginning to produce plays, because he thought there was a 
good play in this, and because he did not want his large investment in 
rights and the picture jeopardized by what someone else might do with 


the play. I told him I thought if he offered a satisfactory contract with 
some moderate sum down that you would be inclined to play along with 
him on the understanding that if the play was not produced within two 
or three years, the rights would revert to you and you would keep the 


Hartford, Nov, 22 
Dear Alf: 

Gracie and I will come down to NY about December 7 and spend a 
week or ten days in town on a bat, especially theaters and trying to keep 
HB&Co from getting any work done. 

Yuh, I AM thinking about the next novel a lot it s ripening slowly 
but I hope it ll be the real big thing when it belooms. 


What do you think of a de luxe M. St. & Babbitt @ $5 for Xmas 1923? 

November 23 
Dear Red: 

Miss Cuff from Don s office has just brought the Harper contracts to 
me for Our Mr. Wrenn, The Trail of the Hawk, and The Job, asking if 
the provisions in those contracts are to apply to our editions. It seems to 
me simpler to propose one new contract for these three books on our 
form. I would suggest 10% to 10,000 and then 15%. The reason for the 
10% is that we are beginning to plan a considerable advertising campaign 
on the old books in connection with "Babbitt the first of the year, and this 
will give us a contribution of a thousand or two thousand dollars toward 
that expenditure. One thing I think we should certainly want to do would 
be to reprint about 50,000 of the Sherman pamphlet, of course in some 
what cheaper form, and distribute it widely. There ought to be a good 
deal of trade and considerable newspaper publicity. I had a talk yesterday 
with the Ladies Home Journal people about their use of Babbitt and Main 
Street as premiums next spring. This should do a good deal toward spread 
ing interest in the old books, Will you let me know what you think of all 


[1922] 117 

Hartford, Nov. 23 (obviously misdated) 
Dear Alf: 

Yes, I think it would be well to prepare new contracts for Job 
WrennHawk. I should think the proper royalty would be 10% to 
25,000 or 35,000, starting at parthat is, as though no copies at all had 
been sold by Harper s; with movie, dramat & serial rights as in Babbitt 
contract (& maybe radio!! rights on somewhat same basis!). I think 10% 
only to 10,000 as you suggest wouldn t allow you enough for advertising. 
At the proper time, show Our Mr. Wrenn to Warner for movie. It 
has a chance. The "proper time" may not be till next year. 


In the next month the correspondence between Lewis and the office had 
to do mainly with closing the Babbitt motion picture deal with Warner 
and with the idea that Lewis might write a biographical sketch of himself 
for publicity purposes. Lewis and his wife came to New York on Decem 
ber $th and stayed at the Chatham -for about a week. Harcourt left before 
Christinas for a Florida vacation. 

Hartford, December 22 
Dear Don: 

Alf wanted me to write a sketch of the life of that interesting young 
writer S. Lewis, to be sent out in answer to requests for material for 
women s club papers, etc. Here it is. 

Alf thought that four printed pages, about 1200 words, would be 
long enough. In my version it comes out 2600, which is cut from an 
original 3200 or so. It seems to me that all of it has some interest and that 
perhaps you d better use the whole thing. What do you think? You might 
send it down to Alf. As it will probably be quoted a good deal, Alf and 
you and Hal Smith ought all to look it over, that nothing too indiscreet 
may get by us in it. If you send it to Alf, explain that it came out this way 
and I believe it d better all go. 1 200 words is too short to give anything 
but a few statistics regarding a life of unusual nobility, courage, beauty, 
tenderness, wit, scholarship, and bunk. 

Merry Christmas! 


I ll hit NY either Jan. 2 or very early on the 3 d-I sail the afternoon, of 
the 4th. 



The Scientist as a Hero 

In December 1922^ through a casual meeting in New York with Paul de 
Kruif, a young man of science, Lewis s old idea, a novel founded on the 
famliar practitioner of his youth, suddenly grew into a vastly more 
significant theme. Within twenty-four hours after he had met De Kruif, 
Lewis had sketched out roughly the outline of his novel One part was to 
deal with the conquest of the plague on a tropical island. A trip to the 
West Indies would furnish a good means of beginning his researches, and 
Lewis thought that Paul de Kruif, who had recently left the Rockefeller 
Institute, was the one mm to help him. In Jammy 192^ Lewis and De 
Kruif started for Barbados. 

S, S. Guiana 
Wednesday, Jan. 10 
Dear Don: 

The hills of St. Thomas (Virgin Islands) are ahead-well be in there 
this noon and I ll mail this letter. We ve had perfect weather; not one bad 
day. Rather dull bunch of passengers, but we haven t minded, for Paul 
and I have been working like the devil and, I think, with success. The 
Barbarian looks bigger and bigger, better and better (every day nevery 
way), and Paul and I find we can work together perfectly. Each day I 
have greater respect for his totally unusual and fine though fiery brain. 
. . . Btheway, you might add on our contract "novel provisionally called 
The Doctor or The Barbarian" We have worked like the devil every day 
since we ve sailed, and the plan is becoming complete. 

I wish Alf and Hal and Gus and you were along-we re sailing 
through seas of the most tropic blue you can imagine. I doubt if I shall be 
able to get any mail till we reach England-probably about March first to 


God bless you all! You might send this down to Alf , with my love to 
him and Sue as it goes to you and all the office. 


Marine Hotel 
Barbados, B.W.I. 

Dear Alf and Don: 

I leave here today on the Crynssen of the Royal Netherlands West 
India Mail line for a round of the Spanish Main, touching back here on 
February 21 and I hope to find a lot of mail from you, sent in care of the 
Marine Hotel and then on to England, arriving there March 6. 

The trip has been perfect; we ve seen a lot of lovely islands, met a 
bunch of interesting people, and the work is going superbly. The novel 
expands and takes on new life each moment. I am quite sure that it will be 
much better than either Main St or Babbitt; the characters have more life 
to me, more stir. De Kruif and I have proved to be able to work together 
perfectly he is not only a damn clever man but the Rock of Ages. 

I ll send you a few cards along the way. Love and kisses. 


Hartford, January i6th 
Dear Don Brace: 

Just received a cable from Hal in The Barbados. It reads thus: "Going 
around Caribbean. Return Barbados February 2ist on way to England. 
Marine Hotel will hold mail." 

This is not entirely unexpected, tho I did not think he would go to 
England so soon. However Hal wrote Babbitt very contentedly in Lon 
don, and there is no earthly reason why he should not write the new novel 
there. I have had two other radios from Hal, but no letter since reaching 
the islands. There should be one any day. 

Grace Lewis 

January 19 
Dear Grace Lewis: 

Don has shown me your letter quoting Hal s last cable. I am not 
really surprised that he feels they will have exhausted the West Indies 

[1923] 123 

before very long, and it probably means that the book is taking more 
and more definite shape in his mind and that he wants to get at the actual 
writing of it. 

I did have a good time in Florida and a complete let-down. I grew 
so languid that three meals a day, ten hours sleep, one rubber of bridge, 
and a half-mile walk made a full twenty-four hours. But after I had been 
home a day or two New York air was like a cocktail, and I m going along 
again. I do hope you are having a good time and a nice winter. 

Sincerely yours, 
Alfred Harcourt 

January 24 
Dear Sinclair: 

I have your letter mailed from St. Thomas, and this morning a letter 
from Grace says that she has received a fat letter from you. From all this, 
I get a clear impression that you are immensely excited about The Bar 
barian and that it is going splendidly. I am not surprised, but just the 
same it is fine to know that you and De Kruif are so enthusiastic and 
busy over it. Your wish that we were all sailing the tropic seas with you 
comes at just the right time, for as I look out of the window, it is snow 
ing hard and it is chilly and wet and generally unpleasant. Alf came back 
from Florida last week and is feeling fine although I think he is a bit 
put out at the idea of having to work so hard after a month in a warm 
climate. He left Sue in Florida, but she came back a few days later. She 
says she felt so good that she wanted to come home and show off. She 
really seems made over. 

Yesterday we had a reorder from McClurg for 1000 Babbitt. All the 
signs indicate that it is holding over beautifully. The total of sales up 
to December 3ist is 140,997. 

You ll be glad to know that our problem of new quarters is solved. 
I almost bought those two houses on East 49th Street, but the prospect 
of building this year looked worse the more I looked into it, and Monday 
we signed a lease for 20 years on a floor in a new building on Madison 
Avenue at 47th Street. We have the whole fifth floor, and we plan to 
sublet two or three pieces of it for briefer periods which will provide 
for growth. We will probably be moving about the first of July. 

The next time I see you will probably be in England, for I fully 
expect to go over in the spring. We all send our love and good wishes. 

Give De Kruif my warm regards. 



February i 

Dear Red: 

If I don t get a letter to you off now, you may not hear from me 
before you get to England. I have been back a fortnight after a good 
holiday. The spring business in general opens up well and Babbitt had 
a good sale in January. 

I think it is a good thing that you are going to London after the 
circuit of the West Indies. I take it that means the book is getting itself 
ready to write rather rapidly, and that after you have filled up on ma 
terial you are going off to London to start writing it. You have all the 
time in the world to do that with and all the loving care you want. I 
think we will keep legs enough under Babbitt and get legs enough under 
the earlier books so that it probably would not be wise to publish the 
new book this year, even if you did get it ready in time to do so, though 
I don t think there is much chance of that. 

I think, too, that this job will give you a satisfaction of another and 
better sort than the earlier books. I think you said once that your dis 
tinguishing personal characteristic is a hatred of bunk. I think that is true, 
though at the same time you understand it and don t hate the persons 
but only their bunk performances. The hero of this new book is perhaps 
the only hero you picked so far that feels as you do, and that ought to 
warm up the book a good deal. 

I hope you are well and happy, are you? 

Ever yours, 

At Sea, between Puerto Colombia 
and the island of Curasao, 
Tuesday, Feb. 13 

Dear Alf, Don, Hal, Ellen, Gus, JES, and the rest: 

Between going ashore at assorted places and working reasonably hard 
on The Barbarian (that, or just Barbarian, without the article, seems to 
stick by me as the title) and trying to write adequate letters to Gracie 
and my father and meeting all sorts of variegated people on the ship and 
ashore, I ve been kept too busy to be much of a correspondent. 

The whole trip has gone splendidly. First as to the book: I m fairly 
sure that it will be the best I have done more dramatic, bigger charac 
ters. And this is not merely desire and pipe-dream, for the book takes 
shape rapidly, despite all our sightseeing. There are hundreds of notes, 
schedules, maps; and the actual skeleton from which I write the book is 

[1923] 125 

well under way. It will take me till I reach England-about three weeks 
from now to finish that skeleton; it may even take a couple of weeks 
longer; but then I can begin the actual writing of the ms. . . . This is 
well in time-I didn t start the actual writing of Babbitt till the middle 
of August, two years ago. 

The trip has been jammed with sights and people amusing in them 
selves and as material useful for this or later books officers on the two 
steamers, wandering Americans and English and Germans and Dutch and 
Spanish, all the curious races of the West Indies and Spanish America- 
English settled there for ten generations, Negroes with curious dialects, 
thousands of Hindus in Trinidad, Chinese there and in Panama, feeble 
little Colombians, sturdy Indians, all kinds. Our intimates have been 
curious contrasts on the Guicma, a roughneck English engineer; in Bar 
bados, a prosy but capable old English doctor; in Panama, Major General 
Sturgis and his wife; on the Crynssen, the cheerful first mate and a regu 
lar stage Englishman who regards drafts (window ones, not bank drafts!) 
with indignant astonishment. De Kruif and I today counted 1 55 separate 
persons whom we ve met since January 4th and whom we seem to know 

It gives me joy to inform you that De Kruif is perfection. He has 
not only an astonishing grasp of scientific detail; he has a philosophy 
behind it, and the imagination of the fiction writer. He sees, synthesizes, 
characters. YouVe sometimes said that my books are meaty; this will 
be much the meatiest of all-characters, places, contrasting purposes and 
views of life; and in all of this there s a question as to whether he won t 
have contributed more than I shall have. Yet he takes it for granted that 
he is not to sign the book with me. And he loves work he s most exu 
berant when we re pounding on the book, and when we re not making 
plans, when I m compiling notes into a coherent whol^ De Kruif is pre 
paring more data clear, sound, and just the stuff for dramatic purposes. 

On the boat from Curagao I met a young American named Richard 
Whitcomb. He sells flour to merchants all thru this territory, but he s 
one of the numerous big, energetic young Americans who are not suited 
to this land of lazy men and low energy. He is more or less planning to 
return north and, sizing him up, I conceived the idea that he might be 
a good man for you perhaps put him in your retail bookshop 1 for 
training, then send him out on the road. So I gave him a letter to you. 

I hope you re advertising Babbitt. How is it going? I know nothing 
as to how it s gone since Christinas. Please try to have a letter waiting 
for me in England or coming to me as soon as possible after March 6, 

Harcourt, Brace Bookshop was to open in March at 4 West 43rd Street, 
New York. 


when I arrive; and let me know how much Babbitt has sold, how it s 
going now, and all the personal news. Send me any especially interesting 
new press comments on it tho IVe seen, in Panama, the mention of it in 
the Mennen s Shaving Cream ad, and Hugh Walpole s summary of the 
novels of 1922 juh see that in the Digest for Jan 13 or so? 

I hope Alf has had a splendid trip to Florida, and that Sue is en 
tirely well again, and that you-all are succeeding in finding the building 
you want. My most affectionate regards to all of you. 


Lots of luck! Look for a good time with BARBARIAN. Send a copy 
of the new biography of S.L. to me if it s done. ... If any of you are 
going to be in England, make it after I get there or cable um to wait 
there for me, if possible. 

On board the S.S. Crynssen 
Just passed the Azores March ist 
five days from Plymouth fine weather 
except last night and today and these 
only moderately rough. 
Dear Alf and Don: 

I was delighted to get letters from both of you when we stopped in 
at Barbados. Glad to hear that you have been able to decide about the 
new quarters, that Babbitt goes on selling; grateful that you have helped 
Grace make investments for us; and most particularly and extremely glad 
that Sue is well again and that there is a chance Don will be in England 
this spring. He ll find me there, very much on the job, and I ll tell him 
all about Barbarian plans. All I ll say now, in addition to previous re 
marks, is that it continues unfalteringly to go on, that I like it ever better, 
and that from Barbados here, with no ports to stop atand with the pas 
sengers agreeable and very English and totally uninteresting and bridge- 
playing, I ve done a very devil of a lot of what seems like first-rate work. 
No, the book won t be done before some time next year in time for 
publication in fall of 1924. 

De Kruif will be with me in Londonthank God! His gift of dis 
appearing for the whole long day (even on this little ship) when I want 
to work alone, is as remarkable as his ability to be right here when I 
need him. In London he ll be working on articles, but right on tap when 
I need to confer with him about not merely scientific points but the 
whole texture of the book for, even where I and not he have created a 

[1923] 127 

character, his understanding is perfect and always inspiring. You watch 
(entirely aside from this book) that man. I have the same respect for 
him that I had for a couple of brats named Alf Harcourt and Don Brace, 
back in Gawd, it makes me feel old! 1915 or so. 

Write me with speed-expect to be at 10 Bury St., but shan t know 
till I land and accept my liveliest greetings. Let me know when Don 
comes and whether he d like me to get him hotel accommodations if 
there happens to be room at 10 Bury, it ll beat the Cecil all hollow. I ll 
meet him and try in my gentle way to keep him from drinking licker. 


March 9 
Dear Red: 

All this traveling and infrequent letters between us are quite in con 
trast with the cheek-by-jowl work we did last May. We have just had 
and passed around your good letter of February 13 written at sea. You 
can imagine how eagerly we have all read it and how glad we are that 
the trip, and the plan, and especially the De Kruif part of it are working 
out so well. Aside from what I know it means to you personally to have 
such companionship and collaboration, it means a great deal to the book 
and to your work on it. 

By the time this reaches you, you will probably have seen Cape and 
know that the transfer of Main Street from Hodder- Williams to him is 
arranged and of his plans for publishing the old books in England. We 
have enjoyed Cape s visit here. He is a nice chap and gives that sense of 
real integrity which makes business so comfortable. 

The bookstore is just opening. Of course it is a little place, really a 
shop. It may grow, but now there is not any room in it except" for the 
two girls who run it, the books and, we hope, for customers. 

Babbitt has sold about a thousand a week instead of the thousand or 
1 500 a day that Main Street had in its second season. We have spent since 
the first of January about $1500 in advertising, but the sales, as you see, 
are not at an extraordinary rate. Don t be discouraged by this. So far as 
I can see, it is the only big book of last fall, except Dorothy Canfield s 
RougkhHe r um^ that has held over at all. We have sent out only just re 
cently, so as not to conflict with the early flood of this year s books, the 
three earlier novels together with the reprint of the Sherman article and 
the biography. 

* HB&Co., October 1922. 


Personally we are all in good trim. We plan to move in June to the 
new office building opposite the Ritz. It is as good a location as we could 
find; and we managed to get low rental and long term. 

Don is rather aiming to get away to England just after the middle 
of April Write as you have time. Of course we are eager for news of 


Ever yours, 


March 22 

Dear Sinclair: 

We were delighted to get your letter from on board the steamer. 
Now I think of you as happily located in London-at 10 Bury Street I 
hope-all settled down and at work. It s fine that The Barbarian goes so 
well. I feel that if you are satisfied with the way it s going it has passed 
its most exacting critic. 

I cabled you Saturday, and Monday morning we deposited $14,000 
to your account. Just after cabling you I went over to the Chatham, 
found Grace, had a delightful lunch with her at the Crillon, and put her 
safely on board the 2: 20 for Hartford. Alf goes to Bermuda the day after 
tomorrow with his family to be gone eight days. 

I wish I could tell you on what date I shall sail, but I don t know, 
I still expect to come this spring. Mr, and Mrs. M* F. Quinn * left here 
in February for the Mediterranean trip and their schedule brings them 
to London April 2jrd to zyth. Their address is care of The American 
Express Company. If you feel inclined to look them up, I am sure they 
will be delighted, and it might be fun for you too. 

Everything goes on in about the usual way with us. We have all 
been reading Edith Kelley s manuscript. In many respects it is a remark 
ably fine job with rather too perfect a representation of the life of her 
people to make it a novel. I suspect that we shall have to publish it, but 
I am not sure of our decision yet. 

I shall certainly not go to the Cecil again. Alf recommends the 
Metropole. 10 Bury Street would be nice. 

Affectionate good wishes to you and De Kruif, 


i Michael F. Quinn, founder of Quinn and Boden Company, printers for Har- 
court, Brace. 

[1923] 129 

10 Bury St., St. James s, 
London, March 24 
Dear Alf : 

Your letter of Feb 7 went to Barbados and following me here and 
your letter of March 9 have both arrived, and now I feel that our lines 
are straight again. I m all settled and on the job; De Kruif s wife has 
arrived, and they ve taken a little flat in Chelsea for six months, so that 
we can work together when necessary yet be altogether independent of 
each other in between. I ve seen Cape and some of the changes he has 
made in Mr. Wrennihey seem well-advisedfew phrases here and there 

I ve seen, of course, a lot of people since I arrived, but the only new 
ones of importance have been Bertrand Russell as charming as he is wise, 
Lloyd Osbourne, who seems to be a great Babbitt booster, Sir Philip 
Gibbs another corker, and a bunch of physiologists and bacteriologists, 
met thru De Kruif . I m in the old place on Bury Street, where Don might 
stay when he comes if he d like to, he ought to let me know date ahead, 
so I can engage a place. Sue will tell you how nice these little fiats are. 
When Gracie comes over, we ll probably go to the country, after a bat 
in London. ... I have a feeling we ll stay in Europe till, say, late fall 
of 24 at most, a year after that, then return to US, to Washington or 
N.Y.-NOT, b 7 God, to a Hartford! 

All well. 


April 4 
Dear Red: 

I am back from a week s trip to Bermuda coinciding with Hastings s 
Easter vacation. We had a good time. Now I am settling down to hold 
the fort as long as may be necessary, which probably is at least through 
Don s trip to England which is getting pushed off toward late May and 
through our moving and getting settled in the new quarters in the sum 

It is good to find your note of March 14 with the Bury Street ad 
dress. You have been happy and comfortable in that house and have 
done much good work there. We have had to turn down Claude Wash- 
burn s new novel. Hal and Don and I each read it and none of us could 
see it. It was all too mild and, despite a few interesting characters, it 
was just too much tea on the terrace and also luncheons, dinners, and 


breakfasts and the talk at them in and around Florence. We must not 
clutter ourselves up with books that seem to us second-rate. 

Spingarn is just back from the South looking better than I have seen 
him in a long time and seeming to feel better. 

Ever yours, 

London, April 10 

Dear Alf and Don: 

All goes well, mit book and feelings. I ve seen a fair number of 
people tho not too many. Weekend this past w.e. at H. G. Wells s 
met the Countess of Warwick, and Ramsay Macdonald. The weekend 
before Easter motored with Frazier Hunt, an American representing 
the Hearst magazines here, and Boardman Robinson (now living here) 
and his wife to Devon, stopping at Bath and Wells. Norman Hapgood * 
has been here-he did not speak of serializing Barbarian; I guess that he 
and Ray Long now realize that with the price I would want and the 
non-breaking-for-serial type of books I write, they re lucky not to get 
it, and if that is so it will save future fussing. 

By the way: about the title. Is just Barbarian, sans article, too much 
like Babbitt? I don t think so. And there has, dammit, been a book called 
The Barb published recently, which might interfere with using The Bar 
barian. One or the other seems to me we d better use they fit the book. 
Which do you prefer? 

I still think Don would like it here at 10 Bury St very much. Staying 
here just now is George Kaufman of Kaufman and Connelly, authors of 
Dulcy, the dramatization of Merton of the Movies, etc. Lunch this noon 
with Ferris Greenslet 2 and John Buchan. They seem to be ardent ad 
mirers of Babbitt. Dinner with Cape this evening. 

I hope your moving will go well I hope you ve taken Edith Kelley s 
novel I hope you are keeping sober. 


April 23 
Dear Red: 

At last we are getting a little action on the earlier novels. I enclose 
the pieces from yesterday s Times and Saturday s Post. 

1 Norman Hapgood at this time was with Hearst s International Magazine. 

2 A director of Houghton MifHin Company. 

[1923] 13 i 

Had luncheon with Grace Friday. I d say she is five years younger 
than last May and quite apt to run away with you when she gets to 

About the title, it is tangled. Barbarian has an adjectival sense that 
Babbitt hasn t. I suppose the American high schools have made phrases 
like "barbarian invasion" jump into mind at the use of the word. It raises 
the question, "Barbarian what?" The Barbarian is rather too much like 
The Virginian. Can t you rather hear Ward Macauley x ask, "Is Lewis 
trying a Tarzan novel?" Aren t both satirical titles? Is not that aspect of 
your work apt to be over-emphasized by critics anyway? Better let the 
title simmer a while longer, though I know it does mean a lot to you to 
write to a title. I don t say at all that I don t like either of them. But let s 
cogitate about this carefully. 

Thank you for your cable suggesting that you do the cutting on 
the Edith Kelley novel. 2 We had just sent the manuscript back with our 
suggestions of cuts. Hal Smith did a careful and excellent job on it. We 
sent her a few hundred dollars to give her leisure to pull it together. 
There s great stuff in it. I think it will come out as a good book. If it 
doesn t, it will be a long time before we fuss with another job of editing, 
if the editing looks like a serious undertaking. 

Ever yours, 

London, April 25 
Dear Alf and Don: 

There really isn t a devil of a lot of news except that Barbarian 
marches on, I m well, I ve seen a lot of people, and I m awaiting Gracie s 
comingshe sails in ten days now. 

The new peopleLord Beaverbrook, weekend at Lady Astor s (in 
cidentally she is an extremely interesting person, and Lord Astor is really 
a charming fellow, somewhat overclouded by her fame) where I met 
Philip Kerr who was L George s secretary during the war he s just been 
in America. Met a number of scientists and been in several laboratories 
watching actual work, which will make much more real the stuff in 
Barbarian. Lunch with Sir Walter Fletcher, head of the Medical Re 
search Fund of the Brit govt. A day with Philip Gibbs in the country. 
AND so on. I ve seen Cape several times, and like him better and better. 
By the way, he s interested in the new book on sea-power and blockade 
of my friend Prof. Maurice Parmelee, of whom I ve written you now 

1 Prominent Detroit bookseller. 

2 Weeds, HB&Co., 1923. 


and then; if it comes to you, sent by Curtis Brown s x man, give it unusual 
attentionmight be one of the books which, sole authorities, go on selling 
for twenty years. 

I cabled you, after receiving a letter from Edith Kelley, that if you 
liked I d be glad to look over her book in re cuts. I do hope this pans 
out well I judge she has a real future and present! Don t plan to cut 
too much remember that well-known vollum Main Street which, from 
certain points of view, might have stood a hell of a lot more cutting, 
yet which did go, as I remember the figures, extremely well for the work 
of a young author. 

Quinn is here, and Cape and Howard 2 and I have given him a lunch 
and shown him a printing establishment & I ll see them again. 

Will you, on receipt of this, please deposit another thousand dollars 
to my credit? I might be able to get thru till Gracie arrived mit money, 
but better not take a chance on running short. . . . 

My very best, and looking forward eagerly to Don s coming. Only 
I wish the whole damn firm were coming! 


London, May 3 
Dear Alf : 

Gracie will arrive here the 14th, and from about the iyth to, say, 
the 25th we ll probably be down in the country, so if by any chance it 
happened that Don arrived here at that time I wouldn t be here to greet 
him. But from about the 25th to mid-June or July ist we ll be right here 
at Georgian House and the whole family can have some good times to 

The plan all finished, with magnificent scientific stuff from De Kruif 
as background not necessarily all to be used but as reference when 
needed the book itself is booming ahead and seems to go very well in 
deed. . . , I think BARBARIAN, sans the article, is the title, but as you say, 
we must mull over it we have almost a year before the title must be 
finally fixed, so that you can announce it. Here s the list of other titles 

Love and kisses, 

Any real sale on Wrenn-~Hcwk--]ob? 

1 London literary agent. 

2 G. Wren Howard, associate of Jonathan Cape- 

[ 1923 ] 133 

May yth 
Dear Lewis: 

I had a little visit with Grace over the telephone Saturday morning 
just before she went to the steamer. She was delighted to be sailing. Later 
in the morning your letter came. 

It was nice of you to make something of the Quinns while they were 
in London. He s a fine old boy and on several occasions has stood his 
plant on its head for our mutual benefit. 

Another occasion of the same sort may present itself to you within 
the next month or so. Miss Grace Thompson of L. S. Ayers, Book De 
partment, Indianapolis, is on your side of the water and will be in London 
about the end of May. I gave her a card to you and if it comes handy 
she is worth some attention. She s an awfully nice girl of the Marcella 
Burns * type but younger, and is doing the same sort of thing for In 
dianapolis and thereabouts as Marcella has done for Chicago. This is her 
first trip abroad. She used to be salesgirl under Melcher when he was in 
Indianapolis and for the last three or four years has been building a first- 
rate department in the town s best store. She has used a good many more 
than her quota of your books and is a warm friend of ours. 

Things are going well with us. Papini s Life of Christ 2 is the best- 
selling non-fiction book in the country; in fact, Baker & Taylor say it 
sold more last month than all but one novel. 


May ii 
Dear Sinclair: 

As you will have suspected, I am having a lot of difficulty in getting 
away to London. Now the date has been postponed until about the first 
of June. I am inclined to think I will come then unless I decide in the 
next few days that it is too indecent to be away during moving and in 
the midst of getting the fall list ready. That is as definite as I can be about 
it this morning. I suppose when I do get to London you will be in the 
country or somewhere, but if you are not farther away than Egypt I will 
see you anyhow. This will find you a reunited family; I hope Grace has 
had a good voyage and that she finds herself even happier than she ex 
pected to be on reaching London. 

Ever yours, 

1 Marcella Burns Hahner, head of the book department of Marshall Field and 
Company, Chicago. 

* Life of Christ by Giovanni Papini, HB&Co., March 1923. 


London, May 26 

Dear Alf and Don: 

Is there any more sale on Babbitt? and are Wrenn etc. starting to 
sell? Cape is making a fine splurge here with Wrenn, with subway posters 
and plenty of ads in the papers. 

Don s last notification is that he may be sailing by June ist. I think 
we shall be right here at 10 Bury St. till July ist, then somewhere in the 
country in England, and we shall be awfully eager to see him. I wish 
you were both coming. ... I shall watch for Louis Untermeyer and 
Grace Thompson. 

Gracie seems to like the plot of Barbarian enormously, and the be 
ginning of the actual ms so far as she has read it. She thinks it will have 
a chance to be much the biggest book I have ever done. . . . Alf s last 
letter suggests that Martin Arrowsmith seems to him just now the best 
title. Well, it s certainly a possible one. You might add this to the list I 
gave: STRANGE ISLANDS. BUT no doubt it sounds too much like a South 
Sea island romance. It s probably a choice between Martin Arrowsmith 
and Barbarian without the article. 

Gracie and I have just come back from a bully week s walking tour 
in lovely Devon, and are off today for a weekend at H. G. Wells s, and 
next Monday I shall get back on the job, to some extent tho probably 
I shan t be completely back on it till we get off to the country. But I m 
well ahead of my time-table if Babbitt may be taken as a standard. 

All goes well. Wells Lewis is sent off to a jolly boys school till we 
get off to the country; Gracie is enjoying London; and me I feel wigorous. 


June 5 
Dear Red: 

Don will have given you what news there is. Carl Sandburg came 
in yesterday afternoon and said that he d seen the picture of Main Street 
in Chicago. 1 I m happy to report that he liked it. He said a curious thing 
seemed to have happenedthat while the scenario did violence to the 
story and to the ideas you wanted to put over in it, the actors had taken 
the thing back into their own hands, so that the spirit after all was near 
enough that of the book. The only thing he really objected to was their 
making a caricature of Miles Bjornstam and a comic out of the maid Bea. 
He thinks it may go big. 


i Carl Sandburg was writing motion picture reviews for the Chicago Daily News, 

[1923] 135 

Le Val-Changis, 

Avon, Seine-et-Marne, France 

July 7 
Dear Alf : 

I ve scarcely even sent you a note, the past six weeks, both because 
IVe been with Don, and I knew he would give you the news, and be 
cause Grace and I have been busy, first making up by a lot of London 
parties for her dull winter in Hartford and second house-hunting in 
France. By the same token I haven t done a lick of work. But now here 
we are most agreeably settled in a charming house with a shady garden 
on the edge of Fontainebleau; I m settled down again for from three to 
five months, and damn glad to be. We got in day before yesterday and 
already Fm started at work. 

It was pleasant to play about London all sorts of people from Lord 
Beaverbrook to Stacy Aumonier, H. G. Wells to Donald Ogden Stewart, 
but that sort of thing entails staying up too late, rushing too much, and 
too many cocktails, and much tho I like all those decorations, I ve been 
overjoyed here, with a simple supper, cooked as only a French cook can 
do it, on the terrace, looking down the lawn to thick woods, then getting 
to bed early. 

Don will probably reach NY before this letter. Tell him I was 
awfully sorry not to see him again his note came this morning. I hope 
the rest of you will agree with Don that Paul de K s story of microbes x 
will make a good book. Personally I m enthusiastic, and if you d like I ll 
back the financial obligation of the advance. 

Let me know how Babbitt and Wrerm-Hawk-Job are going. What s 
being done about serial on Babbitt? What s the office news? Meantime 
you may picture me here, in a quiet room off a garden, working like hell 
on Martin A. 

Our best, 

July 1 9th 
Dear Red: 

It s good to have your letter of July 7th. There has been no par 
ticular reason why we should correspond as regularly this year as we 
have in past years, and I have pumped Don for all the news of you folks 
and the book which he could give. Nevertheless it is good to have a 
direct letter. 

Don had a good time in London; really, I think one of the best 

1 Microbe Hunters, published by Harcourt, Brace in 1926. 


times he has ever had. Good for him and good for the business, too. 
Spingarn is a good deal better and beginning to take hold again. Hal 
settled down to be a real comfort and shows signs of being a bit of a 
genius as an editor. The new quarters are fine much better light and 
space and arrangements for everyone except, perhaps, me. I grew to be 
extremely fond of that front room at i W. 4yth Street. Business is good 
our sales for the first 6 months were $100,000 ahead of the same period 
last year, thanks considerably, though not entirely, to the success of 
Papini s Life of Christ. It looks as if that will hold over to a big autumn 
sale. I am sending you a fall list and you ll see that it is a nice lot of books. 

The second serial rights of Babbitt are released the first of August 
through the International Feature Service. 

I like the outline of De Kruif 7 s Story of Microbes and I am glad to 
report that Don grew to like De Kruif very much personally after what 
he saw of him in London, I do not think that you should guarantee the 
advance to De Kruif on this book. It is generous for you to think of it. 

Sales of B&bbitt last spring were just under 10,000 copies, The earlier 
novels have not seemed to find any new life here. In fact, it would be 
my guess that we have spent at least a dollar in advertising for each copy 
we ve sold. The Harper editions kicked around the bookstores just enough 
to foul the market and to make the trade unwilling to stock them. 

Don liked what he saw of the new novel and he was also much im 
pressed by the idea for one which grew out of the talk after Tinker * 
spent an evening with you, 

Ever yours, 

July 31 
Dear Sinclair: 

After you left I finished up my last week in London in a mad rush 
with hardly any sleep, but I had a fine voyage home, and I have now had 
a little over two weeks at the office interrupted only by a trip up to 
Vermont near the Canadian border to see the children. It took a good deal 
of adjusting to get used to the new quarters after having sailed away from 
47th Street. There must have been a kind of youth and informality about 
the other place; here the concern looks as though it might have been 
going on forever, The offices are fine with plenty of light, air, and con 
venience, and everybody is happy and busy. Hartman 2 came down last 

1 Chauncey B. Tinker, professor of English literature at Yale. 

2 The artist C, Bertram Hartman whom Harcourt, Brace commissioned to do the 
batik mentioned. 

[1923] 137 

week with a batik for the reception room which is both lovely and amus 
ing. JES seems much improved in health, and more happy and vigorous 
than I have seen him in a long time. Hal is taking a vacation this week. 
Sue is again not at all well and Alf is feeling a good deal of anxiety. 
Except for that, everything is flourishing. 

I had a splendid time in London; it gets better the more I think 
about it. The fact that you and Grace were there is largely responsible 
for it. I hope you like the house and that by this time you are com 
fortable, happy, and busy. I wish I could have come over to see you, 
but I have a queer kind of conscience which makes me suspect my rea 
sons for wanting to do things when they are too attractive. The talks 
we had about the new novel were rather scrappy, but I arn very keen 
about the whole thing. It seems to me that your characters and situations 
are going to bite a little deeper even than they did in Babbitt, and it is 
sure to be a great book. I ll bet you re enjoying getting at it again. 

Much love to you both, 


Avon, France 
July 3 1 
Dear Alf: 

It was good to have your long letter. Keep the news coming I m 
out of touch with everybody here* We ve been here a month, lacking 
three days, and it s been superb quiet, beautiful, working like hell all 
day and practically every day going off on an exploration tour to the 
lil villages about, every eight or ten days and the book has gone tre 

I have two or three more titles to consider besides MARTIN ARROW- 
SMITH which is certainly very possible, and has, so far as I can see, only 
one objection its resemblance to Martin Chuzzlewit and Martin Eden. 
These new ones are: The Stumbler Martin Arr&wsmith, M.D.Dr. 
ArrowsmthThe Shadow of Max Gottlieb The Destroyer. I like the 
first of these quite a lot it s short, I think unusual, and fits the idea of the 
book, as you will see when you read it. 

One thing I wish you d have done before I forget it. Have Hal or 
somebody look up in the American Who s Who, the English ditto, the 
American Medical Register or whatever they call it, & the British Medical 
Register & Amer. Blue Book, to see if there are any, or how many, people 
having the following names: Martin Arrowsmith, Max Gottlieb, Gustaf 
Sondelius, Leora Tozer, Terry Wickett, T.J.H.Silva, Bruno Zechlin, 
Angus Duer, Clifford Clawson, Almus Pickergill, Rippleton Holabird, 


(Mrs.) Joyce Lanyon. They are the chief characters among some mil 
lions of minor characters. We wouldn t necessarily change the names if 
there were identities with real people want to know who those people 
were, first. It sounds like a hell of a job, particularly if whoever does it 
has to report on several identities, but I m remembering the lot of trouble 
we might easily have had a year ago with Geo F Babbitt of Boston. For 
tunately out of all of these, most of them are on the good sidemore or 
less a compliment to resemble em except for Duer, Pickergill, and Hola- 
bird, who are goats. 

Thanks for the deposit of the three thousand. It s not too cheap to 
live here, food surprisingly high, but still it is cheaper than London by 
a good deal, especially as we rarely go to restaurants. 

Let me know how the Babbitt serial rights go. 

Besides the Tinker novel of which Don spoke, I have eleven others 
which I could write, so I probably shan t dry up for some time yet a 
few days ago I listed em, just to see how many of them were keeping 
fresh in my mind. Neighbor l is still in the list, but rather far down in it. 

Now on the job, then a little tennis, a little bicycling, a little more 
job, dinner outdoors with long French loaf and Camembert and bottle 
of excellent vin ordinaire at one franc 95 about twelve cents a little 
reading, and to bed early! 

What s become of the Bill Benet Elinor Wylie romance? 

The death of Mrs. Harcourt in August interrupted the correspondence 
-for more than a month. 

September 18 
Dear Red: 

There isn t much news, but I do want to tell you that Grosset and 
Dunlap have just printed another 0,000 Main Street which makes 135,000 
in their edition this year. * "~ " "" 

Hastings and I are back at Mount Vernon, and I wish you d come 
and live with us whenever you feel like it. Everybody s well here, and 
business is good. I think Ellen has sent you a copy of Edith Kelley s 
Weeds. It is a rather powerful and promising job. 

Ever yours, 

1 Lewis was contemplating a book on the American labor movement for which 
he had invented the title Neighbor. It was to be founded on the life of Eugene Debs, 
Socialist and labor leader. Lewis struggled with this conception for a novel for many 
years, but was unable to bring it to fruition. 

[1923] 139 

Avon, France 
September 21 
Dear Alf : 

I m delighted that you re back at work and that you had the wise 
long tour with Hastings. We leave here two weeks from now for a 
month s rambling in Italy (a rest I can do with, after three months of 
the most complete concentrated kind of work) , then up to London, prob 
ably, to be settled and much at work for all winter with a house, but 
with me off out of sight in a little office somewhere all day. We plan 
to see Venice, Verona, Lake Como, a few other places, and to take it 
very easy. Wells will be left with people near either Paris or London. 

AND before I leave here I hope to have the entire first draft of Martin 
done! certainly practically done. It will be about the same length as the 
first draft of Main Street and, like it, will be considerably cut. Seems to 
me it s been getting better and better last part much better than the part 
Don saw. Paul de Kruif comes over from London next week to spend 
a week here going over it minutely then later we must also have him 
read the proofs. 

I expect the rewriting or rewritings to take me about five months 
so, with a month off for Italy, it ought to be done and in your hands 
by the first of May of next year. I ll come over with it. AND it may be 
before May ist. I returned with Babbitt (but with a week of work still 
to do on it) on May zoth, last year. I m for publication NOT TOO EARLY 
in the fall so many publishers, this year, seem to have hit on the same 
trick of getting out their fall leaders early, even in August, and I ll bet 
a Scott hat they ll do so even more next year. 

Does Martin Arrowswrith still seem the title? What about THE 
STUMBLER ARROWSMITH DR. ARROWSMITH. A complete list of possible 
titles as I now have them: MARTIN ARROWSMITH THE STUMBLER THE 
Go over it, with Gus, Hal, Don, Ellen. 

Grace went to London to have her tonsils out. She s been back here 
a week now and feels fine as we all do. I m tired, but it s been so lovely 
and quiet in this secluded place that I m not too tired, though I ve been 
spending most all my time facing this damn HI Corona. 

Let me hear. 


Has Spingarn looked into the matter of Marcel Proust? One or two vol 
umes of him in translation have been published in England have any in 
America? He seems to be all the rage here. Edith Wharton, whom I ve 
seen several times, is extremely enthusiastic about him. 


P,S, II-67-B : Grade and Paul still seem to like just Martin Arrow- 
rmth best among all the titles. . . . Does the resemblance to Martin 
Cbuzzlewit and Martin Eden bother you? ... I think I ve asked you 
this sixteen or twenty times but if I have, then, drat your soul, you ve 
never answered it. 

Avon, France 
September 28 
Dear Alf : 

A joy to have your letter of ten days ago. This will presumably be 
the last letter I ll write you from here we re off for Italy in six days. 
I shall have the first draft of Martin done before I go only about two 
more days work, Paul has been down here and read all but that two 
days of it. He seems somewhat more than enthusiastic. He thinks, first, 
that the scientific stuff is absolutely accurate and absolutely dramatized 
fictionized-and second that it is much the best book I ve ever done. But 
of course with his nearness to the book he is the worst as well as the best 
possible critic. Certainly he seems to feel that I have carried out all the 
high things we dreamed while we were planning it (& damn high they 

I ve read Edith Kelley s Weeds. It is big, powerful, real stuff, with 
a professional touch in the style, a calmness, a sureness, which I had not 
expected from a first novel I think you have something big in her & in 
this book. 

In writing to her I warned her of one danger: Because she has, in 
various apparently different but inherently alike phases, led much the 
same life as her own heroine Judy finding whether as Upton Sinclair s 
secretary, as wife of Allan Updegraff and teacher in NY East Side High 
Schools, as keeper of a farm-highbrow-boarding house in New Jersey, 
as Kentucky farmer or California farmer in all of them the same mill of 
discouragement, the same one-damn-thing-after-another therefore there 
might well be that greatest danger of the author with one promising first 
book the danger of simply doing again the same book with only apparent 
changes, the change of futile Kentucky lanes to inherently identical futile 
Harlem streets. 

I think we have something here, arriving just at the time when the 
US, weaned from pink romance, is ready for her. Don t let her fail for 
lack of encouragement particularly in the hard dollars which will make 
it possible for her to work. 

I know I KNOW, damn you I ve also sent Claude Washburn, Bech- 
hofer, the Nonpartisan League historian, and Allan Updegraff to you, 
and they ve all been washouts. But still have I ever more than sent them 
to you for your own final decision-have I ever done much whooping 

[1923] 141 

for them when they have sent in bad work? The two whom I trust after 
seeing not their probabilities but their actual accomplishments are Edith 
Summers Kelley and Paul de Kruif . 

BY the way: Edith ought to sign herself just Edith Summers. It 
would be no rudeness to her husband Gracie when she occasionally 
writes signs herself Grace Hegger. 

And BY the way: I see that Houghton Mifflin have just published a 
book called Civilization and the Microbe, by one Kendall, prof of bac 
teriology in Northwestern University. This may or may not at all in 
terfere with the plans of Paul. I ve told him to get a copy of the book 
the moment he gets home (he sails for US on October 25) and make 
surepossibly modify his own plans if necessary. But he has been getting 
so much fresh material, hitherto unpublished, about Pasteur, Leeuwen- 
hoek, and other European romantic heroes of bacteriology, and his mind 
works so differently from anybody else s that I don t believe they will 
be much alike, and it s good that his book will come a year and a half 
after this other. But let s take precautions to keep the courses different, 
now while it s early; so talk over Kendall s book with Paul, ... If you 
could have seen how he went at Martin here working night and day yet 
reading with such minute precision! My admiration for him is greater 
now than ever. 

So! That s all, I think, before I start. . . . Don t you want to come 
over to London some time this winter? 


Avon, France 
Sunday, September 30 
Dear Alf : 

I finished the first draft of Martin today. It comes out 748 pages plus 
a certain number of insert pages about 245,000 words long. How much 
it will cut I don t know- there s so much more story to it than there was 
to Main Street with all the strung-together incidents in M.St. that it may 
not cut so much as that first draft did. . . . But cheer up. Remember that 
most of the books that keep going, like Old Wives Tale,, are indecently 

Again, like Patti, 1 we bid farewell. 


1 Reference to the continued "farewell" appearances of Adelina Patti, famous 


I have read the new novels by Edith Wharton and Charles Norris, and 
Weeds is so much better than either of em that there s no comparison. 
The same is probly true of Van Vechten s Bow-Boy, except that the two 
are so different that it s unfair to compare em. As for Bill Woodward s 
Bunk, it s no good whatever, and as they want me to write about it, I 
shall (confidentially) fail to receive either the book or Harper s letter. 

October i 
Dear Red: 

I am delighted to have yours of September 2ist I hope you and 
Grace have a wonderful month in Italy. You can imagine how much in 
terest all the news has for us. As to time for publication of the new book, 
we want to have it ready early enough to be able to publish it either late 
or early according to the situation we find next summer. It s true that 
everybody has been early this year. They will probably be late next year. 
Then the thing to do is to outguess the crowd, or better, size up book 
trade conditions. It was wise to publish the bulk of our list early this 
year. Booksellers had a good spring and were in the buying mood during 
the summer, but the last month has been rather flat with them and they 
have shut up pretty tight on orders for late books. 

There seems to be no hesitation around here that Martin Arrowsmth 
is the best title. I am having a little leaning toward Dr, Arro<wswlith\ 
though I doubt if that s better in the long run. For the short view, it 
saves saying a thousand or more times that the hero is a doctor. The 
world pretty much knows now that your father was a small-town doctor, 
and it would readily connote to a good many thousands of people a more 
than glowing story with a hero of whom you approve as one of the bases 
of civilization. 

We ve been over the Marcel Proust matter several times-too early, 
in fact, because when we first went after it, the Frenchman wanted a 
thoroughly impossible sum and we had to let go. Later, Chatto and 
Windus got out the translation in England and sold some sheets to Holt 
of one or two volumes, which rather spoils the market for us. 

Business is good. It looks as though we should have the biggest year 
so far. 

Ever yours, 

[1923] 143 

October 10 
Dear Red: 

Yesterday afternoon Sewell Haggard telephoned that the Butterick 
people were extremely anxious for a feature serial for the Designer in 
order to put that magazine on the map next year. He said that he heard 
your novel was approaching completion and he wanted it. I said, "Do 
you want $50,000 worth?" He gasped a little at that and said he d call 
me back. He did call later and said we could consider that we had an 
offer from them of $50,000 for the first serial rights. I told him that the 
book would turn out to be as long as Main Street and he said, "Well, 
that would mean we would run big chunks of it in each issue and get it 
out of the way so that you could publish in the spring of 1925." 

So this morning I cabled you. I do not feel that I ought to decide 
this matter without having your views. I will say that if I did decide it 
now, I would accept. Of course we made a lot of plans on having your 
new book next year and hired another salesman to start in the spring, 
but we can use him anyway and we have a strong list generally. I know 
you and Grace are on a holiday in Italy and there may be some delay 
in the cablegram reaching you. If I am forced to a decision before I can 
hear from you, I will accept this offer. 

Ever yours, 

October 27 
Dear Red: 

Two weeks have gone by without a reply to my cable in regard to 
the sale of the first serial rights of Martin Arrowsmith. I understand that 
this has been due to your holiday and that you have probably not re 
ceived my cable. Meantime, the Designer people, primarily Sewell Hag 
gard, are pressing me for a decision. I am having lunch with them Mon 
day, and if dates, terms and everything are all favorable to you and the 
fortunes of the book as far as I can judge, I shall accept their offer. I 
hate to do this without having your views, but in the first place it seems 
to me the wise thing to do for your interest, and in the second place it 
may relieve you of some embarrassment with your other friends in the 
magazine world. To have had the matter taken out of your hands and 
settled without your knowledge enables you to make me the goat. 

The effect on our business in not publishing Martin Arrowsmith next 
year will be significant but not serious. If we did publish it next year, 
we were all set to pass a million dollars business, but without this $200,- 
ooo and more of sales, I still think that next year will show an increase 


over any previous year. It all comes down to the fact that I cannot see 
any compelling reason why you should not have this $50,000 from seriali 
zation in a magazine that will not get in the way of book sales in any 
significant fashion. 

Ever yours, 

October 30 
Dear Red: 

The Designer people would not wait beyond yesterday for a de 
cision, and for all the reasons which will readily occur to you, I have 
accepted their proposal. I hope by all that s holy that you approve. Un 
less you re entirely satisfied to have me settle things like this for you, 
don t again go out of the reach of cablegrams for so long. At any rate, 
this is the highest bona fide price for magazine serialization that I ve ever 
heard of. 


Hotel Curzon 

November sixth 

(Address 58 Elm Park Gardens, 
Dear Alf: 

I m cabling you today Deposit two thousand Guaranty/ As I 
omitted the PLEASE in a frugal and mean way, I herewith add it, also 
thanks. ... 

The address above is a rather charming furnished house we ve taken 
for the winter-just on the borders of Kensington and Chelsea-taken it 
till next June though probably I myself will be coming home considerably 
before that, leaving Grade and the kid there while I thresh round with 
you and Paul, and run out to Minnesota and so on. I ll be back on the 
job in couple days now. . . . Most agreeable time Italy- Venice, Vicenza, 
Padova, Verona, Milan, Mennagio (on Lake Como), Siena, and Florence, 
Got a beautiful rest and feel like work. 

Now about the serial I hate serialization but it seems foolish to lose 
fifty thousand. I promised Ray Long of the Hearst organization also Karl 
Harriman of Red Book a chance to bid against any others, and would 
they hurt book sale any more than Designer with the huge circulation 

[1923] 145 

drive they will be making? Give Ray and Karl the chance to bidif it 
is still possible. In London, Don and I assured Frazier Hunt, the foreign 
representative of the Hearst magazines, that we would absolutely not 
serialize, so gave him no chance to talk business and Frazier is an intimate 
friend of mine. It seems impossible to decide what is best to do in a case 
like this and I appreciate the worry you must have had. 

I m thoroughly grateful to you for your thought and work on this, 
and I understand how much against your interests, as publisher, it was. 
One thing I wish to emphasize. I suppose Haggard will have to cut, but 
I will not change the thing into a sunny sweet tale nor will I permit him 
to. DOES HE UNDERSTAND THAT? Please let me know, for otherwise he 
can t have it at any price. (Not that there s much really offensive in novel, 
anyway. He needn t worry.) 

Isn t there some chance that you will come over here this winter? 
Your room will be ready for you at the house, and we could have some 
marvelous times together. 


November 8 
Dear Red: 

I received your cablegram about the serialization. I have cleared the 
record for you with Ray Long and his crowd. I will write an explanation 
to Karl Harriman the first chance I get. It begins to look as if it were 
fortunate that this matter developed as it did. After I had named a price 
to Sewell Haggard and he had accepted, I could hardly have used that 
price to start an auction, and the way it all happened lets you out. At 
any rate, we have made a good sale at a high price in a place apt to affect 
book sales little, if any, and with the dates so arranged as to release book 
publication at a useful time. 

One of the pleasant episodes of a crowded week has been a visit 
from Paul de Kruif. He came in Monday, was much interested in the 
serialization news and approved of it heartily so far as his interest was 
concerned. He and his nice little wife were out to Don s to dinner last 
night. They are having lunch with me tomorrow. I have enjoyed seeing 




58 Elm Park Gardens 
Chelsea, London, S.Wao 
November 12 
Dear Alf : 

I wonder if in my letter about the serial rights of Martin Arrowsmith 
(yes, I think that title is probably better than Dr. Arrowswtith) I ex 
pressed my really very great appreciation of your efforts for me and your 
possible sacrifice. I do feel it! Have you seen Paul de Kruif? What does 
he think of the matter of serialization? Does he understand that the book 
is not to be injured for serialization? As I asked before, does Haggard 
understand there will be no sunny conventionalities tucked in? 

I met Frederick O Brien ( White Shadows in South Seas) . Writing a 
novel. Awfully good fellow. Is sore at Century Company. He s just sailed 
for NY. Told him I d write you. 

Though we don t move into our house till day after tomorrow, I m 
already settled and at work I have a room for writing, of all delightful 
places, in the Temple! . . . Are you coming over this winter? Come on! 


November 21 
Dear Red: 

Of course we ve seen De Kruif. He is delighted with the serial sale. 
Twenty-five thousand words of the manuscript are to be delivered in 
February. I haven t done anything about Karl Harriman, and I m a little 
embarrassed about doing so. I never have met him, he has never asked me 
about the serial rights, and it would be a little gratuitous, it seems to me, 
for me to explain to him that I ve sold them. You better write him direct. 

I will talk with Hal and Don about Frederick O Brien. He s probably 
worth our getting after, but we have about all the fiction we need for 
next year unless it is something or somebody whom it would be absolutely 
foolish to ignore. We could take O Brien for the fall, but I am more and 
more convinced that we are right in holding our list to about one hundred 
books a year and doing our darndest with those we do take. The way 
authors are flocking around us, it takes a lot of independence to stick to 
this. It also means that we ll make some mistakes, but we mustn t worry 
about those. We have already counted over twenty novels that we ve 
turned down on other publishers fall lists, None of the twenty have made 
fools of us yet, but every once in a while we ll turn down something that 
will make a big success. Hal Smith said the other day that it is getting 
harder for us to take a book of creative literature than for the camel to 

[1923] 147 

go through the eye of the needle. Well, that s true and I guess it s right. 
It is right if we are going to continue to give special attention to each 
book we take and not let them merely go through the mill. 

It would be lovely to go over this winter. Hastings and I are happy 
and comfortable at home. We are having probably the last few years of 
a rich and satisfying personal association. He is getting along well in 
school and I doubt if I ll go away for long until next summer. Also we re 
busy here. I m devoting a good deal of time to the textbook department. 


London, December 3 
Dear Alf: 

Is the title understood then as Dr. Arrowsmth? Is that final? The 
thing against it is that Arrowsmith is much more Martin than Dr. ifs his 
personal and scientific career that counts much more than his medical 
droer Paul de Kruif can explain this to you. Will you please, P.D.Q., 
talk this over with Paul, then with Sewell. But Dr. is shorter, and quite all 
right. Please do give this thought before it s too late. 

Have you sold any Weeds at all? You haven t told me a thing about 
how it s gone. Have you hopes for her next? My belief in her is very 

I can see how you feel about not coming over here this winter. My 
own plans seem to be somewhat as follows just now: I hope to have 
Arrowsmith finished by the end of April or earlier, and to come over to 
the States with an expectation to stay for a long time. As soon as I ve gone 
out West to see my father, and generally floated around a little, I ll settle 
down to the next book. This one may be much shorter and more adven 
turous, and you could probably publish it in the spring of 1926, a year 
after Arrowsmith, with the next, again a long one, coining a year and a 
half after that. I ll talk it over with you when I come home. 

The revising of Arrowsmith goes famously. I m raising hell with the 
first part, which starts rather too slowly. We re all well, though this 
blasted London fog does give us colds now and then. Does Babbitt keep 
on selling at all? 

Frazier Hunt, now sailed for America, may come in to talk over his 
contemplated novel with you. He s a fine fellow and, if he settles down 
to it, may produce a good book. 



December 12 
Dear Red: 

I do not understand that the title, Dr. Arrovosmith, is final. Haggard 
likes it, Paul likes it, and I like it, but neither Haggard nor I know any 
thing about the book in detail, and Paul is inexperienced in this realm and 
inclined merely to acquiesce in what he considers our experienced judg 
ment. The argument for "Dr," is about as follows: 

It saves prefacing every statement in advertising and by salesmen 
with the explanation that the book is about a doctor. The first question 
anyone asks is "What is Lewis s new book about?" To have the title 
answer that is useful, distinctly so. You have become such a figure and 
information about you is so widespread that literally thousands of people 
know your father was a small-town doctor. Hundreds of thousands, per 
haps a million or so, think that the most likeable character you have 
created so far is DocKennicott, so that besides defining the sort of person 
the hero of the new book may be, the word "Dr." in the title creates a 
hazy but nevertheless valuable predisposition in its favor to the effect that 
the hero is a character with whom you are in sympathy. Of course these 
arguments don t amount to much if they do violence to the book. If, 
when people have finished the novel, they feel that the "Dr." part of the 
title is wrong, then the title is wrong. As to this, under the present cir 
cumstances, you are the only one who can decide. If I had read the book 
or a good part of it, I d think my judgment was worth something. Since 
you put this down as a possible title, I just assumed that it did not do 
violence to the book itself. 

The best thing in your letters in months is the statement that you 
expect to come over here to stay for a long time, Bully! 

We have not been able to get more than a thousand or fifteen hun 
dred people to read Weeds, Critics who really dip into it like it and praise 
it highly but it just will not penetrate. 

Babbitt has slowed up pretty much. I think I wrote of the contract 
for 200,000 cheap ed. next fall. 

I haven t seen Frazier Hunt. Paul saw him last week. 


London, December 27 
Dear Alf: 

A quiet, very happy Xmas, with dinner with Curtis Brown. . . . 
Recent acquisition, Arnold BennettI like him. . . . Work going splen 
didlyI ll send Haggard about 43,000 words about January 10- 

[1923] 149 


I think your arguments for Dr. Arrowsmith as title are sound, and it 
does not do any violence to the book. The only thing then is: shall it be 
DR. ARROWSMITH or DR. MARTIN ARROWSMITH. The advantage of the 
latter is its impressing the full name of the hero on readers, that he may 
the better live. I ll write Haggard this same thing, and he and you can 
decide between you, by phone. 

Book manuscript 

If I were you (and in this case the you refers to everybody connected 
with Harcourt-Brace) I don t believe I d even read the installments that 
go over to Haggard BECAUSE I am more or less cutting from the book- 
manuscript for serial usecutting out bits of philosophy which will (I 
think) be of considerable value in the book and little or none in the 
magazine. Wait till about the end of April, and you ll have the whole book 
ms. When I come home we can at leisure go over the book ms and this 
will be splendid I can lay it away for several months and go over the 
whole thing again just before you start setting, a year or so from now. 

Coming home 

Both because I m very comfortably settled here, and living rather 
quietly, and because when I do get home after a year and more of ab 
sence there will be so many people and things that I ll want to see that 
it d be hard for a time to settle down to work, I don t want to leave till 
I have the book revised and done. Then I ll leap on a steamer (leaving 
Grade and the kid here, till Wells s school year is done, or even for all 
summer) and skip back, see you, go over the book if you want to, go out 
West and see my dad, and generally cruise around, possibly spending next 
summer in the Canadian wilds to get some outdoor life after this sedentary 
year of writing and doing but little else. 

Incidentally, Paul will get very little on the serial. He owes $10,000 
on advance, and he owes me $1100 (approximately). Between having to 
accompany me to the West Indies, then here, outfit Rhea, and bring her 
over, he couldn t do it on a thousand a month, so I let him have some 
more, and told him not to repay it till money came in from the bookhe 
wanted to repay it some time ago when, being settled in London and able 
to economize, he got ahead of the game again. It might as well wait till I 
get home, then we can settle it all up. 

Oh. You had to cable me several times in re serial. Be sure that all 
these cables are charged to my accountbetter have someone look it up, 
because they quite possibly were not so charged. 


I feel very well and as soon as I ve had a good lay-off next summer, 
preferably in the wilds Canadian woods or Rockies or some place to get 
this book out of my system, I ll be ready to go at the next book. Ill talk 
it over with you when I come home. It ll be, I think, either a lovely 
detective story I ve enjoyed planning, or the big religious novel I ve 
planned so long paying my compliments to the Methodist cardinals, the 
Lords Day Alliance, the S.P.V., and all the rest not slightly and meekly 
as in M St and Babbitt but at full length, and very, very lovingly. I think 
it ll be just the right time for this novel, and I think I can do it con amore. 
. . . And this one couldn t fossibly be serialized! . . . Perhaps I ll do 
both-the detective thing will be short (100,000 or a little less). That we 
might serialize, and publish just a year after Arrow/smith. Well see. In 
any case, I suspect 111 still do a few more novels! 

This is about the longest letter I ve written to you for a year, so it 
starts the giddy new year with a bang. 


My very good friend General C. B. Thomson will probably be coming 
over to America to lecture this spring possibly immediately and I want 
you two to meet. You ll like him immensely. He s a sure-miff British 
brigadier who, after 26 years in the army (he s still under 50) winding up 
with 1 8 months on the Supreme Council, resigned and went into the 
Labour Party (note that our), because it was the only one that seemed to 
him to have a program. But he seems as completely Tory and army as 
anyone could want. He knows everybody from Ramsay Macdonald to 
the Queen of Roumania, and he was the most charming of all the guests 
we had in France last summer. 

The third possibility for the next novel is a university-president story 
do him as lovingly as I did Babbitt. Paul and I have talked of doing this 
together. It would be great fun for us two to get off into the Canadian 
wilds or the Rockies next summer, and plan it. Sooner or later, we prob 
ably will do it. The only objections to making it the next one are that 
people would buzz if we had two books together in succession and that 
I long to deal with the religiousers soon. 


London, January 5 
Dear Alf, Don, and Gus: 

Not to be interrupted too much in the production of a masterpiece 
of literature, I m answering Alf s note and Gus s letter and Don s all in 
this one, with much New Year s greetings to all of you. 

[1924] 151 

Pm awfully glad of the Stuart Sherman review of Weeds. I sent off 
last week a letter to the N.Y.Sun about Weeds and Elinor Wylie s splen 
did Jennifer Lorn God I wish we could have kept her, now! 1 deliber 
ately designed to start some discussion, decidedly con as well as pro, and 
perhaps help the two books a little. 

I VERY much approve Don s suggestion of Monty Belgion as an ad 
dition to the shop. I know that he would like to go to America; I know 
that though he writes more or less he looks forward to a career in some 
thing like publishing rather than writing; I know that he would, every 
thing going well, be perfectly satisfied to stay in the States for good. He 
is not only industrious and capable but an extremely good fellow; one 
who would fit beautifully with the somewhat unusual spirit of the house. 
... I find him one of the few Englishmen to whom I can talk with per 
fect ease. . . . He has, or would acquire, the peculiar American virtues 
without losing the English ones. Yes, do go ahead on that. 

Arnold Bennett wants me to "do" the great and heroic days of the 
early railroad building say the Great Northern or the Union Pacific. 
That came out the other night. We had him for dinner with Sir George 
McClaren Brown, head of the Canadian Pacific in England, and when 
SGMB and I were being profuse about those great days, Bennett, says he, 
"You ought to do that; it s never really been touched; you ve scolded 
enough so you can be romantic for once with a clear conscience." Worth 
thinking of. I once did talk of a Jim Hill novel. It wouldn t come, then, 
but perhaps it might. 

New Year felicitations. 
May you enjoy Lady s Day, 
Twelfth Night, and Boxing Day. 

January n 
Dear Red: 

If you are in such danger of getting the British point of view about 
business as your suggestion that we charge cable tolls to you on the serial 
sale, it s time you came home and stayed a while. Except for this indica 
tion, I m pleased you thought of it. We never did and won t again. 

What you say about the next novels is interesting, of course, and we 
have all read it here. But the best fun will be to talk all this over when 
you come back. 


i Harcourt, Brace published Elinor Wylie s volume of poems Nets to Catch the 
Wind in 1921, but rights were later transferred to Knopf. 


January 25 
Dear Sinclair: 

After being kept at home for a few days with a hard cold, it was good 
to find on my desk your letter of January 5th. All this was last week, but 
the approaching wedding x brought some local excitement which put the 
thought of writing to you out of my mind. This was last Saturday, as you 
already know. Alfred returned to the office Wednesday morning after an 
unextended trip. 

When I wrote you about Montgomery Belgion, I didn t know that 
Miss Eayrs would be leaving so soon, and I merely had her leaving in 
mind as something that would happen perhaps next summer. Certain ad 
justments have to be made immediately, and I can t tell how or when we 
could use Belgion until the future is a little clearer. I am glad you thought 
of him as I did. 

Thank you for selling Weeds to Cape. I had almost given up hoping 
to find an English publisher with the nerve to do it. Tt will be fun to see 
General Thomson whenever he arrives. I remember him from the Sunday 
luncheon at the Webbs . It s good to realize that we are going to see you 
before many months. 

Ever yours, 

London, Feb. 9 
Dear Alf : 

Thirty-nine, day before yesterday. I m becoming an antique! I vastly 
appreciated the cablegram signed Alfdongusellenjeshal, and the signature 
struck me as so Oriental, so Kubla-Khanish, that I evolved the enclosed 
noble poem. 

Alfdongus Ellenjeshal 

King of the Eastern Riding, 

Tall as a temple of Bal, 

Swift as an evil tiding, 

His dolorous people guiding 

Rode with his white queen Zal, 

A golden tempestuous gal, 

Into the vale of Xiding, 

His runners beside him gliding, 

Shouting "Pashaw and Pal! 

Emperor Ellenjeshal!" 

1 The marriage of Ellen Eayrs and Alfred Harcourc 

[1924] 153 

You will have noted before this that our friend General C. B. Thom 
son won t be coming over to lecture for six months or a year or six years 
or something like that, because he has been made Minister for Air, and 
been given a peerage. The British certainly know how to lay on the 
nomenclature: "Secretary of State for Air, Brig. General the Right Hon 
orable Lord Thomson, P.C, D.S.O."! Now that s what I call a name! 
C.B. is quite unspoiled by his honors (honours) and takes them and him 
self and sometimes even the Labor (Labour) party with a chuckle. 

The book rolls on evenly. In about four days I ll be sending off 
another 25,000 words to Haggard. Regarding the first 40,000 he has cabled 
me, "Story splendid." 

There s something (where have you heard these words before?) I 
wish you would do for me. I may take up the preachers in the next book, 
and I want to make some plans. Can you get and send me the chief peri 
odicals of the Methodist and Baptist churches not so much the ones that 
would be read by the laity but by the preachers, if there are such peri 
odicals. And there is a magazine devoted to the business of evangelists. 
I d like to see a copy of that. I doubt if you could get these at Brentano s; 
I think they d have to come from the Baptist and Methodist publication 
offices. (For God s sake don t let em know who it is as wants em!) Could 
you have someone get these for me? 

All well and cheerful. Been seeing millions of people. Spike Hunt 
sends his love to Don (he s just back from America). Infinite personal 
greetings, Alf. 


February 9 
Dear Red: 

You can imagine how pleased Ellen and I have been over your warm 
and friendly letter which came to Mount Vernon the other day. 

Ralph Block of Famous Players has approached me definitely about 
the sale of the motion picture rights of the next book. Warner Brothers 
are undergoing a sort of reorganization. I told Block that I felt we ought 
to give Warner Brothers a chance to go on with your books if they 
wanted them; that I thought we would not decide until you came home, 
or until I had the entire manuscript. By that time, I think Warner 
Brothers situation will be clearer and we will know what to do. 

Ever yours, 


February 29 
Dear Red: 

Our birthday figures do begin to sound like middle age, but let s keep 
the middle age part of it just a far-off sound. I will be glad to see that you 
get the religious periodicals. 

About Belgion. As whatever he should do here would be particularly 
under my wing and as I have never seen him, I do not think it wise to get 
after him. I have a little notion from what I have heard of him and seen 
of his activities that he may be primarily an author and literary feller 
rather than a business man, and the birthday figures of Don and me and 
Hal, Spingarn, and Gus are now significant enough so that we ought to 
take very few chances of spending three or four years training a man who 
is not fitted to push at least one of us off the chairs we now occupy. We 
are still young enough, though, so that we can take youngsters out of 
college or little more than out of college and let them really learn the 
business under our wings. Young Hilary Belloc x is here now, another boy 
is coming in September out of Yale, and then a Rhodes scholar. We got 
a likely youth from Harvard last fall and another from the University of 
Wisconsin, and the folks who have been here with us are coming on 
beautifully. It would sort of take the heart out of these boys to have 
someone come in from the outside and pinch off the good jobs they now 
see they have a chance of working up to. I rather cotton to the idea of 
having a number of these youths around and letting it be a free for all. 

Everything is serene here and business is humming. 


London, March 4 
Dear Alf and Don: 

I m skipping off to Spain with Gracic for a couple of weeks prob 
ably be gone three weeks in all including the travel down. I have finally 
completed 96,000 words of the story, of which 30,000 are now at the 
stenographer s being copied and to be sent off to Haggard the moment I 
return. . . . Haggard writes rne that he thinks if the whole novel is up 
to the first 40,000 words, it will be the best thing I have ever done. 

About the title for the book. We can settle that when I come home. 
If Dr. Martin Arr&wsmith is too long, then I think the only desirable 
contraction will be Martin Arrowsmth. He so definitely is Martin, more 
than Dr. Arrowsmith; yet just to call the book Martin would be senti- 

1 Son of Hilaire Belloc, the English writer. Young Belloc was on the staff of 
Harcourt, Brace for a brief period. 

[1924] 155 

mental lady-novelistish and so would Dr. Martin. As for the Doc, which 
suggestion Alf hastily scrawled after a bibulous lunch I spit! it would 
be like calling Jude the Obscure, The Country Kid. 

I hope you ll both have some free time and be able to read the book 
P.D.Q. as soon as I come home (which, with this Spanish interlude, will 
probably be mid-May) because I shall probably not stay long in NY City. 
I expect to be able to go with a Canadian Government Indian Treaty trip 
way up into Northern Saskatchewan canoeing, camping for a couple of 
months, starting about mid-June, and before that I ll have to skip out to 
Minnesota and have at least a week with my father. 


I imagine it would be better to have Famous Players than Warner do 
the Arro wsmith film, if there is to be one Warners are pretty damn 
amateurish at everything but finance. ... I think I d wait till after Hag 
gard has done a lot of publicity and advertising on the serial before closing 
any bargain, and I d see to it that both Block and Warners do see that 
advertising. It ought to whet their hungers considerably. I d ask $50,000 
or more. 

Despite the tiredness from long-continued concentration, and despite 
the London fogs, I feel very well (as do we all) and I ll return to work 
with bells on. I ll have the whole thing done by about mid-May all right. 
I think you re going to be enthusiastic. Ah, but when I get to Neighbor! 
That s going to be THE book. And in less than five years I shall get to it. 

Fred Howe is here we lunched with him yesterday, and this after 
noon I take him to the House of Lords on tickets Thomson (he s now a 
peer) gave me. 

And tomorrow SPAIN! 


London, March 26 

Dear Alf: 

This in answer to your letter which was awaiting rue when I got 
back from Spain. It was a good trip and, as we were shameless about not 
doing our duty as sight-seers, a good loaf. Toledo is a particularly in 
teresting and unspoiled town and both there and in Seville there s plenty 
of Moorish architecture left. 

I think we d better wait till I come home and talk about the annual 
drawing of money for investment. However, it may be that I shall have 


only a few days in NY Fm due in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, on about 
June 8 and I may ask you and Don to do the actual investing. 

Have I told you much of anything about the summer trip? I join a 
Canadian Govt tripa "Treaty Party" which goes annually to the In 
dians to pay them off, adjudge legal cases, etc. and for two or two and 
a half months I shall be in complete wilderness in No, Sask., outdoors 24 
hours a day, which will be just the thing to set me up after a year and a 
half or more of much too sedentary life. I m glad to say that my doctor 
brother will be with me. I ll be back in what we call Civilization by the 
end of August and perhaps between then and December I ll go over the 
whole Martin ms again, and carry out any changes on which we-all may 
agree. Fortunately we have oceans of time, so everything would go all 
right even if I could have only one day in NY on landing which depends 
on when I finish the Martin work. 

About Belgion: Use your judgment. I quite see your point about 
youngsters, and admire you for it your way is exactly the opposite of 
Doran and old Freddy Stokes, 1 neither of whom had any real notion of 
training youngsters. 


April 7 
Dear Red: 

Hendrik Willem (Van Loon) sends me the enclosed prospectus of 
the Dutch edition of Babbitt. You can try your Dutch on it. 

The Designer publicity is good. Seeing the title in print tends to 
convince me that Dr. Martin Arrowsmith is too much of a mouthful for 
a title, and if I had to say this minute it would be simply Martin Arrow- 
smth. But all this can wait until you come, of course. 


April 9 
Dear Red: 

Glad to have yours of March 26th. Your letter is the first definite 
word of the Canadian Government trip. It sounds fine. I only hope that 
the mosquitoes don t eat you up, and aside from this detail it does seem to 
me the ideal thing for you to do next. It will get you toned up physically 

1 Lewis was employed as a manuscript reader at Frederick A, Stokes Company, 

[1924] 157 

and do all sorts of good things to you. Of course we are a little disap 
pointed not to look forward to a longer visit with you after you land, but 
it will be perfectly simple to do our work together in the autumn. 
It certainly will be good to see you again. 


London, Saturday April 12 
Dear Alf : 

I shall sail on the Scythia on May 10, arriving late May 18 or early 19. 
My plans are to stay in NY to about May zyth, then a couple of days in 
Chicagp, on to Sauk Centre, about six days there, then trip with the 
Canadian government party, and be back late in August. 

I expect to arrive home with the book quite all done. You might meet 
the Scythia, if it doesn t arrive at too ungodly an hour, and plan for a 
dinner. And will you please engage a room for me at the Chatham? And 
we might all get right after the book. There won t be the final lookover 
which I had to give when I came home with Babbitt. 

I ll see Paul in Chicago on my way home, unless he happens to be in 
the East. It ll be damn good to see you all, and I think you ll like the book. 
I feel as well satisfied with it as I ever do with anything. 

Next fall, probably, we ll find a house in Washington for the winter, 
and stay put nearly a whole year . . . unless we go to Calif ornia ... or, 
you know, maybe just a flyer down to South America. 

Six million salutations. 


As I ll be out of sight all summer and as she wouldn t have any too 
much fun without me at an American resort, Gracie is going to France 
for the summer, then will join me about September first. 

Could you call up Henry Mencken at the Amer Mercury, tell him 
when I m coming, and ask him to arrange a party for some date between 
May 19 and 26th at his and yourconvenience? 

April 28 

Dear Red: 

Of course we are delighted to hear that you are coming and to know 
of your plans with some definiteness. I ll telephone Mencken, reserve a 
room for you at the Chatham, and we ll have a fine time while you re 
here. Ellen and I want you to stay out at the house as much as you can. 
Plan to be there several days, and I ll just stay away from the office and 
go over the book. 


I ll meet you at the steamer and then take the book and read it in 
twenty-four or thirty-six hours. I suggest that you play around for a day 
or two while I am reading it and getting my head around it and then 
spend two or three days with us mapping out useful things to do to and 
for it. 

I ll be so glad to see you. 


London, April joth 
Dear Alfred Harcourt: 

For the sake of small Wells I am returning to the States this summer. 
I shall arrive on the Veendm in New York June 1 3th, I shall first go to 
my mother in Forest Hills where I shall sit down in the midst of my 
luggage to decide what is the best thing to do with my summer. 

This last week I have been reading Martin Arrowsmth, most of it 
for the first time. There is a depth, an intelligence, a bigness, and a beauty 
about this book that seems almost epic to me. It has come to me that it is 
absurd to read a Sinclair Lewis novel as if it were a Peter B. Kyne. It 
should be read with leisure and with thought as we do the good books 
which have lasted more than their generation. Do you think this rather 
monumental of me? But you know, like Mrs* Merton of the Movies, I am 
his "severest critic" as well as "his dearest friend." 

Grace Lews 


Travel on Two Continents 

On May i$th Lews arrived in New York with the manuscript of Arrow- 
smith md took up with the office details of its publication. 


New York, May Twenty-three 
Dear Alf : 

Do you remember that bird-I think he lives in Brooklyn whose 
chief delight in life is taking a book that is already published and marking 
on it the most marvelous corrections that have ever been made? He did it 
with Babbitt and Main Street and found a number of errors that all of us 
had missed. 

Although he is an amateur he might be able to do it, for filthy lucre, 
with Martin. As we have so much time before the publication of Martin 
we might get him to read the galley proof, make a list of proof sugges 
tions and make use of as much of them as we may wish. As I remember it, 
his one fault is that occasionally when a thing is said sardonically he takes 
it literally and makes a proof correction which is absurd. But he is one of 
those geniuses who may be valuable to us. 

Your loving little boy-go to hell! 

Sinclair Lewis 

After a few days Lewis headed for Souk Centre, from where he and his 
brother were to start for Canada. 

Sauk Centre, June 4 

Dear Alf: 

Your good letter this morning. I already begin to feel rested & start 
off cheerfully for Canada tomorrow evening. My father is well but not 


awfully strong. . . . Send me a note now & then this summer so they ll 
be here when I get back. My best to all of you. 


This was the last note Lewis wrote the office before starting for Canada. 
In it he mentions a letter from Harcourt, no doubt written longhand, for 
there is no copy. 

June 23 
Dear Sinclair: 

I have just had an enjoyable half-hour reading the interviews from 
Winnipeg. They are marvelously good, and the reporter who describes 
his visit with you in the hotel room comes pretty near to genius. I know 
you won t get this letter until after your trip is over, but the interviews 
and the pictures indicate you are going to be fit to enjoy it. 

For the sake of the record, I ll tell you that I met Grace at the 
steamer on Saturday, the i4th, and saw her safely started in the direction 
of the Forest Hills Inn. She and Wells are looking splendid and appear to 
be completely fit. Grace is going to spend the night with us in Pelham 
tomorrow night. 

Martin is completely set up and we have proofs, which the movie 
people are reading. I have also sent a set to Paul. 

New York is full of the Democratic Convention this week, and after 
lunch Alf and I watched the parade on Fifth Avenue, made up chiefly of 
politicians in silk hats and policemen. Imagine the Police Glee Club, dur 
ing a halt in the parade, singing "Sweet Kentucky Babe" and a lot of 
similar songs on Fifth Avenue. It wasn t very different from the 4th of 
July, 1897, i n m y sma ll birthplace in New York state. 

It will be nice to see you soon, I hope, after you see this. 

Ever yours, 

There *was no word from Lewis while be was en route until bis letter of 
June joth. 

lie a la Crosse 
Sask June 30 
Dear Alf-Don-Hal: 

This is rny last chance to send you a note before vanishing quite 
beyond post-boxes until I emerge at The Pas, Manitoba, some time be 
tween Aug. 15 & Sept 5. ... This settlement (Hudson s Bay store, 

[1924] 161 

Revillon post, log cabins of Indian fishermen) tho it is 150 miles (by 
canoe) from railhead has a postal delivery every single month! 

The trip is going beautifully. I ve already quite lost my jumpiness, 
my daily morning feeling-like-hell; haven t had a drink for eleven days & 
haven t missed it in the least. I don t have to do any work at allthe 
Indians do that but I paddle enough to get a lot of exercise. The ground 
no longer feels hard to sleep on, & I wake at 4, ready for bacon & coffee, 
with great cheerfulness. I shoot at ducks; catch pike; & listen to the agent s 
stories he is a delightful fellow, knows the wilds, & has a sense of humor. 
All goes beautifully & I hope it does with you. 


^ ^ 

Dear Grace: 

Yesterday I was really moved by the picture of "Babbitt. I stayed and 
talked with the Warner people; they do not seem to think the picture will 
make money. They say it did well when it opened in Los Angeles but it 
has not done well in Boston. I told them I thought they could count on 
almost any other part of the country but Boston to respond to the picture. 

Ever yours, 

On July 8th Mrs. Lewis went with Wells Lewis to Nantucket Island, 
Massachusetts, and there was a constant exchange of correspondence be 
tween her and the office while Lewis was in Canada. 

July 26 
Dear Red: 

I was really surprised by your telegram yesterday saying you were 
again in touch with civilization. I meant to have two or three letters wait 
ing for you at Sauk Centre, but the days have slipped by. Of course those 
of us who have been holding the fort have been especially busy and it has 
been a stinking hot summer. Most of the staff have been away on vacation 
and there is still a number to go. Hal left for a cruise last night. I think he 
plans to stop in and see Grace at Siasconset, where according to her letters 
she seems to be enjoying herself. 

There is nothing to report on the motion picture rights of Martin* 
I have sent galleys to all of the leading producers and Ralph Block is the 
most interested of the lot. Warner Brothers say they lost some money on 
Main Street and expect to lose some more on Babbitt, and of course this 


has spread. The lack of success of these pictures makes the other pro 
ducers a little wary. It may be that the sale will not be made until the 
book itself is under way and we have an assured box office title for it. 

We have done nothing but send out some galleys to the motion 
picture people and in every case I have insisted that these be returned to 
us after they have read them. It seems important to me not to allow the 
book to be pawed over so far in advance of publication; in fact I have 
steered the office away from it and have kept the reviewers from reading 
it. I don t want anybody to read it and get het up about it and then have 
a chance to cool off. Not that they would really cool off. I find that I like 
the book more and more myself as I think it over, but you know how it 
would be with the reviewer if he reads it now, and then next February 
started to write an article about it. 

Ellen and I and Hastings expect to leave about the tenth of August 
for ten days or so. I think that is all the news. I ll write again if anything 
occurs. Til bet you had a wonderful time. I would like one like it myself. 

Ever yours, 

The Tavern-on-the-Moors 

Nantucket Island, Mass. 
July ipth. 
Dear Don: 

I am having a better and better time. Fola LaFollette and George 
Middleton are here. And yesterday I ran into my adored Marc Connelly 
and Tony Sarg and Bob Benchley. Great fun. 

Did you see the telegram from Hal which was forwarded to me from 
your office kst week? It reads thus: "Weather fine and party is ahead of 
schedule and I have cut off last loop of trip so am back at railhead feeling 
superb real rejuvenation. Going Sauk Centre so hustle mail there and wke 
present address and a funny and take day off to write me enormous letter. 
Shall know plans better when see mail but unless you like to come to St. 
Paul for bat shall probably go East in about three weeks." 

Enough is enough apparently. The wilderness is all right in its place 
but not too much of the same place. I do hope the creature will come up 
here and love it as I do. 


Lewis stayed in Sauk Centre until August fth and then drifted East by 
way of St. Pcad, Chicago, and Detroit. He arrived in New York the end 

[1924] 163 

of August, and joined Mrs. Lewis at Siasconset. While he was there he 
read galley proofs of Arrowsmith. There were several letters written back 
and forth, principally about the proofs. 

September 5 
Dear Red: 

A minor piece of business: The head of the English Department in 
one of the large St. Louis high schools is making for us a collection of 
short stories to be read by high school pupils. He is extraordinarily keen 
about your short stories and urged us to make a collection of them some 
day. I report this as backing up the suggestion I made to you when you 
were in the office. Incidentally, he would like to include one of your 
stories in his collection "Old Man Axelbrod." Have we your permission 
to reprint it? I think a little of this sort of reprinting for high school 
pupils is a good thing to steer them toward an author s complete work. 
I often wonder how many new readers of fiction come into the market 
each year a darn sight more than die off, I think. 

I do hope you found Grace and the boy all right and that you re 
enjoying the crowd at Siasconset. 

Ever yours, 


Have you tackled proofs yet? Mencken asked for an advance set again 
the other day. I stalled him off. 

Siasconset, September 6 
Dear Alf: 

Yes, use the "Old Man Axelbrod" story if you want to in the short 
story collection. About a collection of my stories: As I m going abroad 
for God knows how long, I ought to look them over before I go or else 
take em with me, for examination and possibly revision. Now if I remem 
ber aright, I gave all the copies I had of my stories to Ellen, just after 
Main Street, and they re probably stored somewhere in the office. 

No, I haven t done a lick of work on the proofs. I ve never been more 
agreeably and profitably lazy than here, in this island of sea breezes and 
moors. But I probably shall do quite a little work these next two weeks. 

Don t stall Mencken off on the proofs so long that there ll be any 
danger of his getting sore. I think he d respect release date if it was 
emphasized to him. 

See you soon. Love to Ellen, Don, Hal, Gus. 



September 19 
Dear Sinclair: 

Paul has been in this afternoon, explained that he will have to go 
away without seeing you, and brought up the point of the acknowledg 
ment to be made for his share in Martin. He suggests, either in small type 
on the title page or in small type on a following page, simply this: "In 
collaboration with Paul H. De Kruif." Or if this doesn t seem all right to 
you, he wishes nothing to be said at all. You can tell us what you want to 
do about this when you come in. 

I hadn t looked at the book since I read the manuscript, and I find 
myself neglecting other things to read the batches of proofs as they come 
in from you. It s even better than I thought it was. 

See you next week. 


Mrs. Lewis went to the Forest Hills Inn, Long Island, on September 
a few days before Lewis left Siasconset. In Ne*w York Lewis discussed 
with the office the form of credit to be given to De Kruif in Arrowsmith. 
The Lewises sailed for England on the France early in October. Lewis 
read page proofs of Arrowsmith on board. 

Bord S. S. "FRANCE" 
Monday noon, October 13 
Dear Don: 

We are less than twenty-four hours from Plymouth. About this time 
tomorrow we ought to be ashore IN ENGLAND! It s been a fine easy trip; 
no very exciting people aboard but no one disagreeable. It s a fine ship in 
every way, especially as regards food and service, and I recommend it. 
The only rough day has been today she s pitching, rather, as I write the 
typewriter shows an unmanly tendency to approach me then back off 
from me. 

Don t forget that all thru the page proofs the running heads have to 
be changed to just Arrowsmith. 

Feel fine, rested after the excitements of NY, for tho I ve worked 
pretty hard on these damn proofs aboard, I ve also had the finest lot of 
assorted sleep. 

Lemme know what Paul says re credit page. 

[1924] 165 

October 30 
Dear Red: 

Your cable authorizing the change of the word "suggestions" to the 
word "help" in the acknowledgment to Paul 1 has just come in. You 
already know that everything else has arrived, and as far as I can see, there 
will be nothing else for you to look at until you get the finished copies of 
the book. 

All Paul said about the acknowledgment was that he d be content 
with a compromise in regard to that one word. I thought you wouldn t 
mind this; hence the cable. 

I hope you ll soon be settled down for a good winter. Everything is 
flourishing here. 

Ever yours, 

The Lewises stayed in London until November nth, and then went over 
to Paris. 

c/o Guaranty Trust Co. 
3 Rue des Italiens, Paris 
November 12 
Dear Don and Alf : 

We ve done nothing but loaf and get over the final rush in NY all 
this month. Tomorrow morning, early, we re off for Switzerland, where 
we ll put the kid in school for several months. Then we ll return to Paris 
and there, and All Points South, view the wonders of the nation for sev 
eral months till I feel like getting on the job again. I think the only sensa 
tional thing this past month has been having Bernard Shaw in for tea. He 
was charming, and very young, and his wife, of whom one has heard very 
little, seemed to be a very real person. 


e following statement of Lewis s obligation to De Kruif was printed in 

To Dr. Paid H. De Kruif I am indebted not only for most of the bacteriological 
and medical material in this tale but equally for his help in the planning of the fable 
itself for his realization of the characters as living people, for his philosophy as a 
scientist. With this acknowledgment 1 want to record our months of companionship 
while working on the book, in the United States, in the West Indies, in Panama, in 
London and Fontainebleau. 1 wish I could reproduce our talks along the way, and 
the laboratory afternoons, the restaurants at night, and the deck at dawn as we 
steamed into tropic ports. 


November 2 1 
Dear Red: 

No news yet about the motion picture sale of Arrowsmith. I think it 
will drift now until after the book is out. We have settled on March 5th 
as the date of publication. 

Paul and Rhea have been at our house for a day. They are apt to 
settle down somewhere around here for a few months. I am just reading 
the first two chapters of Microbe Himters, and they are fine. 

As a piece of news: You remember Hal s friend Arthur Hildebrand 
started last August with two others to sail from Norway to Labrador over 
the Viking route. They have not been heard from since, and it looks as if 
they were lost. It s a shame! 

We have had a busy autumn. Nothing has had an extraordinary sale, 
but the whole line has been moving, so that the year has been a good one. 
We have already done just over 20,000 of A Passage to India, which is so 
many more than the sale Forster has had before in America that he ought 
to be pleased. 

We are all heading up now to work on ArrowsTmth, and it s going to 
be great fun. 

Ever yours, 

November 25 
Dear Red: 

I just have your note announcing your arrival in Paris. I envy your 
having Bernard Shaw for tea. I always see him now in a raincoat, talking 
and wringing his hands, as he did that day at Ramsgate. I hope by the time 
you get this you will be all settled and comfortable wherever it is in 

We have nearly finished printing the limited edition of Arrowsmth, 
and in a few days we shall begin printing the first regular edition of 
50,000 copies. We may have to print more before publication, but this 
will at least give us something to start on. 

Paul is back here for the winter probably and has just found a flat in 
Mount Vernon. We re all well and busy, the same as usual. 

Ever yours, 

In the three weeks they were in Switzerland, there was no communication 
from Lewis. 

[1924] 167 

L Elysee-Bellevue Hotel, Paris 
December 1 1 
Dear Alf and Don: 

Hunting for a school for Wells in Switzerland we found a good one, 
too, at Glion, just above Lac Geneve; an eight-day walking trip among 
the mountains in the most glorious Indian Summer weather, with no bag 
gage except a small rucksack; a week here looking for a suitable hotel. 
And now we re settled down in this comfortable place out on, the Champs 
Elysee, and I ve started my French lessons and reading Voltaire. We both 
feel superb and being dug in here we see almost nothing of the Wild Boys 
who do their drinking at the Dome or the New York Bar. Ve seen Fred 
Howe several times. 

About Jefferson: I ve read the Muzzey and Morse biographies, and 
while I find Jefferson interesting, I m not really stirred to specialize on 
himcertainly not yet. 1 But I am planning The Yearner, and second 
novel, much bigger, containing the novel about the Methodist preacher 
which I ve planned so long, but also other and more dramatic elements. 

Well be here about two months, then off Eastward to Czechoslo 
vakia, Greece, Turkey, or Lord knows where. If either of you are (is?) 
planning to come over here, please make it enough before February i jth 
so that I shan t be gone. Or make it May- June when I ll probably be back. 

In advertising I think I should emphasize the "first novel in the two 
and a half years since Babbitt" People may forget it s been that long. 

I m most terribly sorry to hear about Arthur Hildebrand. Perhaps 
there may still be a hundredth chance of his being at some Esquimo 

Tell Hal that if he can by some miracle be stirred to write to me, I ll 
send him a handsome answer. Tell him that I may beg him to go off to 
China and Siam a year from now. As for Paul, remind that low form of 
micro-biologic life that he owes me about two letters now, damn him. 


Paris, December 27 
Dear Alf: 

A quiet but agreeable Xmas. We spent the afternoon wandering 
among the old tumble-down streets on the Butte de Montmartre. Arthur 
Maurice is in town, and we dine with him this evening. So is Tommy 

many years Harcourt kept suggesting Jefferson to various authors as the 
outstanding comparative vacancy in American biography. 


Wells saw him on the street the other day and asked him to phone me 
when he had time for lunch or something. 

I don t myself know the exact dates of the first editions of my 
books-that is, I hate to depend on my memory. I believe they re to be 
found in Who s Who. I think in answer to your questions that I d in 
clude The Innocents, but omit the Stokes boys book x -if later it gets 
included, all right, but let s not facilitate the process, and meantime most 
copies of it, lying dusty in boys libraries, will have vanished from the 
collectors ardent view. 

Cape writes me that he is coming over. When he gets there, discuss 
with him whether it would be better to send English or American edi 
tions to people in England. AND, besides the individual doctors, the edi 
tors of medical journals, the A.M. A, officials, and the college bacteriolo 
gists, HAVE PAUL make out list of other scientists to whom it should go in 
advance. Talk over with him whether, perhaps in some guilty hope of 
starting controversies, it ought not to go to people e.g. Flexner who 
may not like it quite as much as those who will. 

Then what about the big foreign scientists besides the British? Talk 
that over with Paul. I suggest specially D Herelle (who is mentioned 
so much), Roux, D Arrhenius (oft mentioned), Bordet, Gratiot. If Paul 
can get the American, British and Continental scientists to write either 
for the press or at least to him Talk over for his letters a delicate 
phrase which may suggest that to them. 

Finally, what about sending this to the big critics everywhere? What 
about Spingarn or you sending it to Brandes, Croce, et al? What about 
sending it to James Joyce in Paris, Gilbert Seldes and Wilson Follett and 
other highbrows in America? And just for the fun of it, to Freud, Jung 
and Adler and see if they ll roast it among their disciples? And get off 
copies for translation-agents as early as possible may get good European 
reaction, esp. in Germany. 

Grace suggests, apropos of my hint tother day of Britishers who 
might review book for America West, Wells that they ought NOT to 
have May Sinclair do it; as she did Babbitt, it will begin to look like log 
rolling. Have some one get after Edith Wharton early perhaps cable her 
with prepaid reply it would not be easy to get her, but valuable if pos 


and the Aeroplane, Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1912. Lewis wrote this 
under the pseudonym of Tom Graham. 

[1925] 169 

January 7 
Dear Red: 

I am glad you are comfortably fixed in Paris, that you re feeling 
well, and that The Y earner is continuing to take shape. The new season 
has started off with a bang; we seem to have been more than unusually 
rushed getting samples ready for the spring books and getting the travelers 
ready to start. 

Ernest (Brace) and his wife left for Paris on New Year s Eve on the 
Ohio, planning, I think, to stay there at least for part of the winter. I 
expect to come over in the spring. Our plans are to leave here the end 
of March, probably go straight to Italy, and then come to Paris, spending 
probably three weeks altogether on the Continent, which would bring 
me to London about one month after leaving New York. Or I could 
just as well reverse the route, going to London first and around the other 
way. Unless we fail to make suitable provisions for the rest of the family, 
Ida * will come with me. I certainly want to see you. 

Louis Untermeyer, Paul, Chris Morley, Hal, Alf, and I have just 
been having lunch, interrupting the ribaldries long enough to talk about 
ArroivsTmth and you. I can t see anything in sight this spring to compete 
with A. in any real way nothing within miles of it in scope, or depth, 
or any kind of importance. I ve been rereading here and there from the 
printed sheets it gets me more each time I go back to it. 

Ever yours, 

Early in December the -fly-leaves for the limited edition of Arrowsmith 
had been sent to Paris -for Lewis s signature. 

Paris, January 10 
Dear Alf: 

I cabled you day before yesterday that I have not yet received the 
fly-leaves for the special edition. They ve probably been caught in the 
Xmas mail, 

Fve had photographs taken by Man Ray, an American who follows 
after Stieglitz, Steichen, etc. I m awaiting proofs and will send you the 

After I had suggested various bacteriologists to receive advance 
copies of Martin, it occurred to me that there MIGHT be a danger that 
too many editors of reviews might have the bright idea of having the 

1 Brace s wife. 


book reviewed by a scientist. One or two such reviews would be fine; 
too many would be fatal it would suggest to the public that the book 
was not a piece of literature but a scientific manual. So don t suggest 
profs as reviewers to too many. I hope Carl Van Doren will do the book 
for somebody, and that Stuart Sherman himself will be moved to do it 
for the Evening Post. And Menck of course. 

I m still loafing but beginning mildly to think about novels. But it ll 
be some time before I go to work. I m thinking about a month or more 
in Germany. Meantime I learn some French ... a little! 

I have a letter from one Leon Kochnitzky, who was secretary to 
D Annunzio during the great Fiume days, whom I met in Rome, and 
who has been in Russia recently, that one Domher wants to write to you 
about Russian rights. I m answering "sure, let him write if he has a 
publisher interested." . . . ARE there any publishers in Russia except the 
State? I don t know. But Louise Bryant tells me there are a lot of Rus 
sians interested in my books, and I should suppose that at best we d get 
darn little out of Russia in money, so it doesn t much matter who pub 
lishes there. . . . Happy New Year. 


January 15 
Dear Red: 

Yours of December 2yth came in the first of the week. The day was 
a hectic one, as Don had to have an emergency operation for acute ap 
pendicitis. It was a close squeak for him, but last night his temperature, 
pulse, and breathing were about normal, and I really believe he is out 
of the woods. 

The only thing that isn t going right is the flyleaves for the special 
edition. We are having them traced. If they do show up, may we have 
a cable so that we will surely wait to bind them in the books? 

We are waiting for the special photographs. Ellen and Hal are at 
tending to the advance copy stuff. Paul has read your letter and is mak 
ing notes, and he and Ellen are going to devote Friday to getting that 
part of the job in shape. In one thing I am sure you have gone a little 
too far in suggesting free copies. For instance, "professors of bacteri 
ology in ALL American medical schools, and in all the larger colleges and 
universities." We mustn t cheapen the book by being too free with it. 

While we are working up the critical reception of the book with 
a good deal of care, I am devoting most of my attention this time to 
getting the trade started. After all, they are the folks who hand out the 

[1925] 171 

copies on which we pay you royalty. Gehrs has worked out a really 
clever advance order scheme. We will have a dummy of the book, the 
inside of which is really an order blank, with a little poster projecting 
from it, on the front of the fiction counter in each of the stores for three 
weeks before publication. I explained the scheme to Marcella Hahner 
yesterday, and I told her I d give $25 to the girl in her store who had 
the most orders booked by the morning of March 5th. When she saw 
how it works, she said she d be disappointed if they did not have 1000 
retail orders on the day of publication. That means 1000 people from 
her store alone will be reading the book immediately and talking about 
it. It is important for us to emphasize this aspect of Arrowsmith for a 
number of reasons. The main one is that Babbitt seemed to stop so sud 
denly that there were some copies of it around for a considerable time. 
Another reason is the serialization. These give the booksellers excuses to 
cut down their advance orders. We have to do something to get them 
thinking in terms of 250 and 500 for their first orders instead of 50 and 


We now have a full page on the book every week in The Publishers 
Weekly, so that booksellers will know for dead certain that the day after 
Calvin Coolidge is inaugurated they will have nothing else to do but sell 

No more now. 


Paris, January 25 
Dear Don: 

I ll wait here in Paris for the new set of fly-leaves. Otherwise I d 
be off to the Riviera right away not because I don t like Paris but be 
cause I want to see a lot of other places in the few months more of 
loafing which I can take. ... As soon as I have them off to you, Grace 
and I will be leaving, with Germany probable after Riviera. ... I don t 
believe we ll go out as far as Constantinople, though we had thought of it. 

Where I ll be when you arrive in Paris I don t know, but I ll plan 
to meet you here or in London when I know your dates more definitely. 
I saw Ernest and Reeves (Brace) a couple of times here. They are now 
off to Vence, a little and, I am told, very agreeable town not far from 



January 26 
Dear Red; 

I have your note of January loth. Ellen and Paul have worked out 
the list of bacteriologists who are to receive Arroivsmith. I was at once 
aware of the danger of there being too many reviews by scientists, and 
I have already squashed a scheme or two in that direction, especially with 
Canby who has decided that he is very anxious to review it himself. The 
scientific reviews with one or two exceptions ought to be confined to 
the scientific journals. We will need two or three of just the right com 
ments from those sources, but not more, and I want that crowd to realize 
that they have gotten into literature and that they should buy and read 
the book rather than expect to have copies given to them. 

Cape s steamer is due today, and I suppose he will be in tomorrow 
or the day after, Don got home from the hospital yesterday. 


Paris, January 28 
Dear Alf: 

I was frightfully worried to hear of Don s illness. I hope that long 
before this he will have been out of danger. About the time you get this, 
or a little after, I ll be off to the Riviera. 

The damned fly-leaves for special edition never showed up till yes 
terday afternoon, and I ve sent them off to you today. The three original 
packages are now in one package together vwth ten new photographs 
just taken here. 

I m a little sore about Paul s being unable to find time to write me 
one single line in about four months. You may show him just that, if 
you d like. . . . If he has ever written, I haven t heard from him since 
the letter which came to me just as I left Nantucket. . . . Meantime 
I ve written him at least three timeswhether postcards or long letters. 

Many ideas about The Y earner. Agreeable days with Bill Woodward, 
now in Paris, and beautifully grown since the days of the Publishers 
Newspaper Syndicate, and Mencken s great friend, Philip Goodman, the 
theatrical manager a hell of a good fellow. 

So! Now you can catch your breath. 


[1925] 173 

Paris, Feb i 

I m going to write a play! I shall enjoy it in contrast to novel writ 
ing, and it will only take me about three weeks. I shall be working more 
or less with Philip Goodman, who will then produce it some time this 
year. We re going off to Munich to do it in a few days now. Then, 
probably, Riviera. Meantime Yearner grows and rounds itself. 


Paris, Feb. ist 
Dear Don: 

I was shocked and distressed when I heard from Alf of your opera 
tion but, as I have had no further news, I let myself hope that you are 
convalescing beautifully. I saw with Gracie the extremely beneficial re 
sults of an appendicitis operation and I hope it will be the same with you. 

How will this affect your plans about Europe? Just now I m going 
up to Munich for about three weeks; then Gracie will either join me 
there or we ll go to the Riviera. In any case, I shan t go out to Con 
stantinople, and I ll be in reach whenever you come. 

Drop me two words whenever you are able. . . . Need I tell you 
how heartily and completely Grace and I send you our affection and 
good hopes? She has skipped off to Switzerland for a few days, to see 
Wells. This morning I talked to her over the long distance telephone 
they got the call in about ten minutes and it seemed so strange to be 
talking from the flat plains of France to a place in the mountains, and 
high ones, of another country! 


Paris, Feb. 6 
Dear Alf: 

Today I started off the second emergency set of fly-leaves for the 
special edition of Arrowsmth. Jeezus! Have you ever tried signing your 
name 5oo-odd timeskeeping the sheets from getting blotted meantime, 
whereby the floor about your table is covered with a snow of fly-leaves 
and then going to a French emballeur (Gracie being in Switzerland for 
a week to see Wells, who seems very happy there) and trying in damn 
bad French to explain that you want thesehere carefully wrapped in 


strawboard for shipment to Amerique? Then you ain t been nowhere 
and you ain t done nothin . 

About Maurois. And Disraeli. I have seen Grasset, his French pub 
lisher, twice; and thrice I have seen his very delightful secretary qui 
s appele Alice Turpin and who speaks an admirable English but who is 
completely French. And this noon, thanks to Dr. Dawson Johnson, di 
rector of the American Library here, I lunched with Maurois himself. 

The situation is this. Maurois is now writing a series of five short 
things dealing with Goethe, Byron, and three others. And he has the 
documentation for two books on Disraeli and Wilson yes, H.H. the 
Late Revered Woodrow. But not a word of either of these has he writ 
ten. . . . He is a very charming fellow (incidentally speaking perfect 
English). He is, unfortunately for us, much interested in his business (he 
is by profession a silk manufacturer or something of the kind) and in his 
children his wife died some short time ago and he is devoted to them. 
ALSO he is well pleased by Appleton in America, Lane in England. 

I told him what a hell of a bunch of guys Messrs Cape and Arcour- 
Braas were. There is a vague long-range possibility that you might have 
with Grasset here in France something like the same relation you have 
with Cape in England. . . . Ht is young about forty energetic, free 
from silly tradition, and at the moment about the most successful pub 
lisher in the country. 

Fm off in a week now for Munich. 


February 13 
Dear Red: 

Don is back at the office and in better trim than for a long time. 
Ellen and I are starting South tomorrow afternoon for a holiday. We 
will be away ten days or so. 

Consider yourself damned in Ellen s best New England accents for 
not having sent the photographs by first class mail and not having had 
them taken earlier. The review copies of Arronvsmth to the monthlies 
and weeklies of large circulation have all had to go with the best of the 
old photographs we could find. Of course the new pictures will be darned 
useful in special places, and we will make all the special use of them we 

About Paul: I am almost certain I have heard him talk of having 
written to you, but I ll show him what you say. There is one thing you 
can be dead sure of he has been most expertly and completely helpful 

[1925] 175 

in the advance publicity work on Arrowsmth. He spent days with Ellen 
on it, and between them they have done a careful and scrumptious job. 
We are already beginning to get a few letters saying that the scientific 
crowd are pleased to have this special and unusual attention. 

The news about your writing a play is splendid. You will enjoy the 
work, and it is about time you pulled one. How long ago the first night 
of Hobohemia seems! 

Advance orders for Arroivsmth look to be thirty-five or forty thou 
sand, but the big accounts are just beginning to come in. Mencken has 
read it and is as enthusiastic as we could wish. You know he is now 
syndicating a weekly article to 45 newspapers. His article on March yth 
will be a review of Arrowsmithy and then he will do it over again in the 
April Mercury. As you know, Hal is endlessly enthusiastic, and the stuff 
he and Gus have worked on for the trade has been splendid. The book 
grows on us all all the time. 


February 13 
Dear Red: 

I am back at the office after my operation, apparently in good con 
dition. As far as I know, my plans for Europe will go through about as 
I told you. I expect to sail for Naples on March 2 6th. Meanwhile I have 
a lot to do, and Alfred is going to Florida tomorrow to get a holiday 
before mine begins. 

Spike Hunt came up to lunch day before yesterday, bringing recent 
and good reports of you. Jonathan is here now, too. 

Barring strikes, accidents, and other acts of God, I think you can 
count on my being in Paris for a few days toward the end of April and 
in London during the first two or three weeks in May. 

Ever affectionately yours, 

Hotel Elysee-Bellevue, PARIS. 

February 28 
Dear Alfred and Don: 

After two weeks in Munich Phil Goodman was called back to Paris 
to see some one and also Munich is a town which, however sharming, 
becomes a litde bit dull after a few days and so we have returned to 
Paris to complete the work on the play. As soon as it is finished, which 


will be in from two to four weeks more, Gracie and I will start off for 
a long hike through Germany and Austria. 

We enjoyed Munich immensely, particularly as it centered about the 
Kurt Wolff Verlag. No one could have been more charming than Wolff 
and his wife. They had us at a couple of parties, as it was in the midst 
of the Carnival, and in general did everything possible to make our stay 
agreeable. Wolff strikes me as being one of the most intelligent and prom 
ising publishers I have ever met, and I shall be glad if it is possible to 
make an agreement with him for Arro wsTmth. 

Gracie had sent to Munich and therefore I missed the new pam 
phlet about me x which, she informs me, is amazingly charming and valu 
able. I am glad to hear that the book starts in with a promising advance 
sale and that Mencken is as enthusiastic as we had wished. 

Having told you something like 16,347,222 times how much I ap 
preciate your work on all my books, need I again repeat it on Arro*w^ 
smith? I would say if it were not for the fact that Phil Goodman is 
sitting across the room listening in a great bronze buddha bored Hebraic 
way to this letter when he wants to work on the play, and were it not 
for the fact that the letter is being dictated to Ellen Barrows that as soon 
as I get this God damned play done and as soon as I have had a joyful 
hike in Germany, I shall go to work on The Yearner, which will nat 
urally be the greatest novel which has ever been written in the northern 
countries of southern Iowa. 


Paris, Mar. 4 
Dear Don & Alf : 

The play is no good. It tends to be cheap & sensational; so I have 
chucked it, absolute, & with pleasure I return to thoughts of Y earner 
tho it will probably be a couple of months before I start writing it ... 
in England, in the Tyrol, in Sweden, in Connecticut, or one (at least) 
of those places. 

So at last Grace & I start off on a real hike. As it s rather early, we 
plan (tho you know how often we change our plans) to go from here 
to Marseilles, Cannes, the Italian Riviera, then direct from Genoa to 
Munich, on to Vienna & Budapest, to Berlin & possibly Stockholm, Rot 
terdam & Brussels. ... I ll probably, therefore, see Don in London after 
May ist rather than here. But I want him to keep me posted as to his 

1 Biographical pamphlet Sinclair Lewis by Oliver Harrison (pseudonym for 
Harrison Smith), issued by Harcourt, Brace. 

[1925] 177 

movements. From tine to time I ll wire from Xdzboda or some other 
agreeable place. 

I have Hal Smith s new pamphlet. It s a corker. 


March 6 
Dear Red: 

Arro wsTmth is published, and all the signs point to success. I was 
intending to enclose with this letter a number of the early reviews, but 
Hal tells me he is writing you and enclosing them. Stuart Sherman s re 
view is splendid, and Canby s is good too. Hal has had a wonderful time 
with the advertising and has managed things with much skill and of course 
with no end of interest and enthusiasm. The advance sales are, we figure, 
43,000. We shall have to start another printing the first of the week. It 
is pretty clear from the early comments that there is going to be con 
troversy of one sort or another about the book; everything looks favor 

I am due in Naples on April sixth. You might write me in care of 
The American Express Company in Naples where you expect to be in 
Paris the last few days in April and in London after that. 

Ever yours, 

March 6 
Dear Red: 

The eventful day has passed. Last month there was a total eclipse of 
the sun. This week New York had its first earthquake since the days of 
President Grant and the police reserves had to be called out to quiet the 
swarms from Harlem. Yesterday Arrowsmith was published. Today I am 
writing you a letter. The connection between these events does not need 
any astrologer. 

In short, Arroivsmith is going over with a bang. There are reviews 
everywhere publicity everywhereads everywhere. Vanity Fair devotes 
a page to the photo with the twisted column and the enigmatic Lewis 
at its base; Arts & Decoration (God save the mark!) another; the roto 
gravure sections of newspapers will have you; and the women s maga 
zines cry for them. Even the biographical squib by that imposingly un 
known critic Oliver Harrison is selling and will probably have to go into 
another edition. For ten days people have been going into the bookstores 


and trying to buy Gus s dummy copies which, with their virginal and 
blank leaves are still a better buy than many of the new novels, having 
the merit of complete honesty and the dramatic quality of suspense. 

Up to date Canby likes Arrowsmith immensely; Stuart Sherman 
thrusts back at that red-whiskered Boyd, and proclaims that it s your 
best novel. His is a completely satisfying estimate of the book, at least 
to me. Fishbein and Keith Preston in Chicago have come up to scratch. 
It is all very exciting, and you ought to be here to flavor it. Laurence 
Stallings, now out in Los Angeles working for the movies, is the only 
discordant note so far, coming out with an abortive, brief and unfair 
review which appeared two days before the book was out. Carl Van 
Doren tells me he likes it immensely, and I am waiting breathlessly to 
hear from that dean of American critics who is now (heaven help us!) 
editor for Doran s, John Farrar. 

This will have to serve as a brief resume of the latest dispatches from 
the front. To be concise, you have captured the American front line 
trenches of the enemy. In another week Gus will have the entire public 
on the run into the bookstores. 

Personally I am well, cheerful, and wish to God spring was here. 
The same to you! A letter from Gracie says that you are in Germany 
with one Philip Goodman, and I can only wish that his name was Harri 
son Smith. But still, perhaps he knows something of that accursed lan 
guage, which I could never manage to twist my tongue around. How 
ever, Europe is not for me for two or three years as yet, and why I 
should think it should be then, I don t know. Are you really going to 
the Orient? Knowing something of China and Japan, I recommend it 
with all my heart. No one has really seen the world until he has been 
there. You are beginning to do the job so completely that you ought to 
absorb the saffron and the brown people and perhaps the black, although 
if you are like me you will be more interested in the weird varieties of 
whites you meet out there than in the natives. 

Some good books out in the last few weeks, though nothing can in 
the least degree rival Arr&wsmith Item: The Constant Nymph by one 
Miss Kennedy, and God s Stepchildren by Sarah C. Millin. 

If there is anything I can do for you, any messages I can bear, or 
rears that I can kick, let me know. You will hear from me again. My love 
to Grace, and if you will get yourself a bottle of good wine and pretend 
that I have paid for it I will be satisfied. 

Alf is down in Florida but comes back Monday. Don sails soon. 
Paul is the same as ever, and he and Rhea are going to move into Don s 
house and look after the youngsters while the Braces are away. We have 
Spike Hunt s novel, and I am going to try to read it tonight. 

[1925] 179 

That s about all the news I can think of. Cape has been here and 
goes back tomorrow. He is a good scout. 


March n 
Dear Red: 

With Don planning to sail for an eight or ten weeks holiday at the 
end of the month, I suddenly realized that my last chance for a holiday 
in some time was rapidly passing. And, during the last week before the 
publication of Arrowsmith and the few days after it actually appeared, 
there was nothing I could do for it all the wires were laid and the book 
itself was at work so Ellen and I slipped away to Florida and had a 
splendid time. 

I spent last evening reading through all the reviews so far. They re 
fine as a whole. A number of the reviewers are a little at sea as to just 
how to take it. They re going to be ashamed some day of their "ifs" and 
"buts." I am glad to see that most of them recognize Leora for part of 
what she is just about the best woman character in American fiction that 
I know of. I have no doubt that we shall surely sell 100,000, and I have 
hopes that it is going much beyond that. 

I have also read your letter about Maurois, Disraeli, etc. What a fine 
and careful job of going to the bottom of a tangled situation! 

While I was in Florida, I read Spike Hunt s novel and sent it back 
to Don for him and Hal to look at. I said I thought we ought to try it- 
it s honest and it s real. I haven t heard what they think of it. If they 
share my hopes, we ll try it; if they share my doubts, we may not. 1 

You must have enjoyed Munich and the play. I hope you and Grace 
have a wonderful time in Germany and Austria. Then it s time tp start 
writing another novel. 


Hotel Bellevue 
March 21 
Dear Hal: 

Yesterday, forwarded from Paris, came your letter & the first batch 
of reviews & the big ad. God bless you! The ads are corking the use of 
the arrow as symbol for the book is superb. I should think they would 

i Frazier Hunt: Sycamore Bend, HB&Co., 1925. 


hit everybody square in the eye. Fm so glad, of course, of Sherman s 

We re off on a two months hikehere (Cannes is lovely, by the 
way), Italian Riviera, Munich, Vienna, Berlin then, God knows. But 
probably we ll be back in America in May, & I ll settle down to writing 
the new novel, which I have been pondering endlessly. . . . The play 
which I started with Phil Goodman proved N.G., & we chucked it; any 
way we had two agreeable weeks in Munich. 

You must plan to go out to Siam (via China perhaps, or India if by 
way of Europe) in fall of next year. 


Hotel de L Hermitage 
Monte Carlo 
March 26 
Dear Alf: 

I have your warming letter of March 1 1. Grace & I are really enjoy 
ing our progress along the Riviera Cannes charming, Monte Carlo really 
sensationally beautiful with its gardens between sea & abrupt mountains. 
And we ve peered at Hyeres (Mrs. Wharton likes Arrowsmth best of 
all), Marseilles, Carcassonne, Nimes, Avignon. . . . From here we go to 
the Italian Riviera esp. San Remo & Porto Fino then north to Munich, 
Berlin, Vienna. ... In eight weeks or so I ll be settling down to the 
new novel, tho whether abroad or in U.S. we haven t yet decided. . . . 
G. has had a touch of flu but she is all right now, & we feel fine. . . . 
The new novel will be, I hope, not over 100,000 words, & be ready for 
publication in fall of 1926 I hope and (I HOPE) be quite of the quality 
of the last three. ... I think it should certainly not be serialized, & I 
am enclosing a letter on that subject to the Designer. 

Our most affectionate greetings, 

Any thoughts on pulling wires for Martin for Nobel prize? 


March 26 
Loren Palmer, Esq. 
Butterick Magazines 

Dear Mr. Palmer: 

Greetings! I am writing from Monte Carlo the lights have just gone 
on in Monaco across- the little harbor, the yachts are twinkling, and it is 

[1925] 181 

the perfect stage-set. What is perhaps more important is that I am trying 
to get used to a Corona again after long use of a Royal, and my typing 
hasn t perhaps the perfection it displayed when I used to be valet-secre 
tary to the King of Iceland. 

Your letter of March 10 has just come in. I am delighted that Arro f w- 
swnth should have been enough of a success as a serial so that you should 
want to hear about my next novel. But in the first place that novel isn t 
as yet even started I ve been taking my first long loaf in years and in 
the second place I doubt if it will be available for any serial use what 
ever, both because as it now outlines itself in my head, it has no suitability 
for serial use, and because I don t want to get into the habit of having 
things serialized. With ArrovosTmth it was all right, because the novel 
was complete, at least in its first draft, before I had the slightest notion 
that it ever would be serialized, so I did not work toward that purpose 
ever. But if I knew, or even rather thought, that the new book was to 
be serialized, it would badly cramp my style rob me of the freedom 
without which very few decent novels axe written. 

One might say, "But why not just work ahead, forgetting all about 
serial purposes, in complete freedom, then consider serialization after 
ward?" Because one doesn t work that way; even a subconscious notion 
of serialization would cause one to insert this and omit that especially 
when one has had as dreadfully much practical experience in magazine 
hacking as in the past I have had. 

I m awfully grateful to you for your interest, please understand that 
definitely, but unless I should happen to go broke some day, or happen 
by an improbable chance to turn out something really splendidly suitable 
to serialization some romantic interlude between longer books I don t 
believe I ll ever have another book serialized. 

Sincerely yours, 
Sinclair Lewis 

April 4 
Dear Red: 

I was awfully glad to hear that you are thinking of coming over to 
this side before long. Seven months in Europe and five months here is 
not a bad program. 

Everyone is discussing ArroiDsmith, at least when I am around, from 
all possible angles. One night I dined with a well-known children s special 
ist who seemed to have been neglecting what little sleep his practice 
afforded him in order to finish the book. He said that the medical pro 
fession ought to offer you a vote of thanks for exposing all the cant, 
hypocrisy and bunk that go with that job. The "tonsil snatcher" had 


gotten under his skin, just the same, and he assured me that for a long 
time he had been intending to give up that lucrative branch of his work. 

The attitude of the English critic seems to me to be much less com 
plicated and more straightforward than the American, and I think the 
reason behind it is that the American critic is not quite able to get over 
a feeling of resentment which he is not willing openly to profess. You 
have attacked American materialism (let us say) and you sell enormously. 
Here are two crimes which irritate these gentlemen. The English critic 
is delighted to have you strike at American crudities, since he belongs 
to the country of Wells, Bennett, and Galsworthy, and he has sense 
enough to know that a great writer may also be extremely popular. This 
may seem nonsense to you, and anyhow it doesn t really matter. Over 
here some of the adherents of the Boyd clique have come around to your 
side. The Bookman published its first fair estimate of you as a writer in 
Grant Overton s article, which I am sending you, and Burton Rascoe has 
flung his floral tribute at your feet. The attitudes of Broun, Stallings and 
F.P.A., representing the World, of course, have been curious. The book 
has never been competently reviewed there, and after Stallings first re 
view (which seems to me to be entirely unworthy of him) the paper 
has said nothing beyond a few digs. Personally, I think Stallings is a little 
shaky about it. He came in to tell me that you were a great man, that 
he took his hat off to you, and that you were the greatest journalist writ 
ing fiction since Dickens (whatever that means) . We are maintaining an 
attitude of polite reserve accentuated by daily advertising in the World, 
and it will be amusing to watch the final result. It s a rather interesting 
illustration of American criticism, to my mind. Stallings, busy in Cali 
fornia with a movie, reads the book and writes his review at a time when 
he is too busy and too angry to write about anything, and certainly in 
no mood to consider so important a book as a new novel by you. His 
pride would not allow him to recant, and since he is attached to the 
World the rest of the paper backs him up. Oh well, what s the use! As 
Alice said, they are only a pack of cards. The writers whom I meet and 
the people who merely live and read books now and then have no re 
serves about it. They like it enormously. 

Claire x sails on the Ordima on April 25th with the whole outfit, and 
in addition her mother and aunt and a friend. I shall be on the job all 
summer with the exception of a holiday cruise, and if you come back I 
want to have you spend some nights with me on board. 

We re having an interesting, exciting time just now around the office, 
and it looks like a prosperous year. Extraordinary how fascinating this 

1 Smith s wife. 

[ 1925 ] 183 

work is. You will be delighted to know that we have sold Sandburg s 
life of Lincoln x to the Pictorial for a sum which gives him over $21,000. 
It means putting the book off till next spring, but that can t be helped. 
Sandburg is one of the most lovable men in the world and has always 
been poor; I don t believe that he has ever been more than three or four 
thousand ahead of the game at any time. You can imagine what it will 
mean to him* This book of his is magnificent, and I doubt if it would 
ever have been written without Harcourt. And incidentally, there is no 
other publisher in America who would have had the intelligence to see 
the latent possibilities in Carl. 

Eh bien, spring is here and I am beginning to be restless. No word 
from Hildebrand. It looks as if he were gone for good. 

Good luck, old son, and don t forget to come back this spring. My 
love to Grace, if she wants it. 


Hotel Continental, Miinchen 
Apr. 8 

Fine trip: Riviera lovely; fine walks in hills near Genoa with Claude 
Washburn; Monte Carlo & Alassio especially beautiful. In 5-6 days we re 
off to Vienna, Budapest, Berlin. I think we ll probably come home late 
in May, & settle down while I get busy with The Yearnerfor which I 
have numerous notes, & which is now well-formed in my mind. 

I don t know where I ll see Don probly not till May, in London. 
I ve written to him in Naples. 

Fve seen a lot of reviews thanks to HJB.&Co. And how go the 
sales? ... All well & happy & interested. 


April 10 
Dear Red: 

Yours of March 2 6th with letter to Loren Palmer is just in. You re 
right about this serialization business. Serialization cut down our advance 
orders at least 25,000, I should guess, and it dulled the edge of the event 
which the publication of a new book by you should be. Advance sales 
of Arro*wsmith were just over 40,000. Incidentally, our record of gifts 
1 Carl Sandburg: ABRAHAJM LINCOLN: The Prairie Years, 2 vols., HB&Co., 1926. 


totals 1500. We sent it widely for review and to the book trade, and your 
suggestions and Paul s ran into a large total. Most of this is worth while, 
but 1500 is a hell of a lot of books, and, in general, I think a man thinks 
more of a book he buys than he does of a book that s given to him. The 
upshot of all this is that I think you re dead right in your state of mind 
about your next book. We ll make the whole bunch hungry for it rather 
than take the edge off their appetite in any way. 

Heywood Broun has decided he likes the book, according to his col 
umn this morning. He is rather niggling about it, but I enclose it. We 
found from the Publishers Weekly that the book was the best-selling 
novel in March, according to their reports. 

Don gets to Rome tomorrow. He ll be home the end of May. Ellen 
and I are rather planning to get abroad with Hastings for a few weeks 
in July. Of course, wherever you are happiest is the place to write the 
next novel, but I rather hope it is America. 

I have looked into the Nobel prize procedure. Their prize is awarded 
by a close corporation of professors consisting of 1 8 members. The pro 
cedure seems to be foggy. I have made a delicate suggestion to Stuart 
Sherman that he take some steps to that end from America. I have written 
to Cape to see what he can get done in England, and I have asked him to 
have your Swedish publishers see if they can start something in the Scan 
dinavian countries, and I am sure Kurt Wolff would help. 

Write when you feel like it, and of course let me have early word 
of your plans if you decide to come home. 

Ever yours, 

Hotel Sacher, Wien 
Apr. 1 8 
Dear Alf: 

Superb time in Vienna a Viennese baron whom I knew in Munich 
came on here with us; he is youngish, very intelligent, amusing, & a damn 
good banker; he s introduced us to a lot of people whom we like & most 
of whom speak admirable English. . . . Vienna does not seem poor; there 
are few outer signs of poverty, but they all say they re rather discouraged. 
They look so to America. 

To Berlin day after tomorrow, with a day in Prague on the way. 
Fll see Don in London possibly in Paris. We ll probably sail before the 
2oth of May. All well. 


[1925] 185 

April 24 
Dear Red: 

Much interested in what you say about coming home in May to start 
the new novel. I am pretty sure it will be a good thing for you to write 
it here. 1 don t know how dependent you have come to be on people 
and change, but why not try it? There have been some nibbles on the 
motion picture rights but nothing significant yet. Don is evidently having 
a fine rime in Italy. You may be seeing him in London. 

Has anyone told you that Gene Saxton has gone from Doran s to 
Harper s? He is to be a side partner for Briggs. He sailed last week I 
suppose to do what he can to dislocate some of G.HJD. s British authors. 
It will be interesting to watch the developments both at Doran s and 
Harper s. 

Ever yours, 

Lews returned to New York on the Albert Ballin at the end of May 
with Philip Goodmm, Donald Brace, and their tvives. 

May 29 
Dear Red: 

I am much disappointed not to be able to be at the steamer to meet 
you. Six weeks ago I made an engagement to go with some friends up 
to the Arlington Valley over the Decoration Day holiday. You will re 
member I have headed in that direction at this time of year for a long 
time. I remember the trip you and Grace and Hastings and I had there 
just three years ago. I really can t get out of the trip now, especially as 
I have told Dorothy Canfield about it, and she has the manuscript of her 
new novel for me to read. I will be back Tuesday night. Of course I 
don t know what your plans are, but I do contemplate your being in this 
part of the country for at least long enough for us to have a real visit. 
There is your old room and a warm welcome for either or both of you 
at the house. 

I don t understand what has happened to the book market this spring. 
Hood told me their sales of fiction for the last three months had been 
between fifty and sixty per cent of normal. Perhaps the public is pausing 
for breath before they decide to go off on another reading bust maybe 
in a new direction. We will know more about that in the autumn. 

I have had letters from Don in London saying you were in great 
shape. I am eager to lay eyes on you. 



The Lewises remained In New York until the middle of June when th$y 
rented a farmhouse for the summer at Katonah, New York. During this 
time Lewis s contact with Harcourt, Brace was through personal visits 
and the telephone. 

Louden Farm, 
Katonah, New York 
Aug. 26 
Dear Don: 

As to book form of short stories, etc.: My story "The Willow 

Walk" appeared in E. J. O Brien s annual Best Short Stories of for, 

I think, 1918. And my article on Minnesota appeared in The United States 
(I m not quite sure of that title) published by Liveright (1924 or 1925). x 
And I have a piece in a co-operative book on the short story edited by 
Blanche Colton Williams, 2 published when & by whom God only knows. 
And haven t Harcourt, Brace & Co. published one of my short stories in 
a volume edited by somebody from the West? 3 


Lewis came down to New York and stayed at the Shelton Hotel all of 

New York, October 3 
Dear Alf : 

I told you so! I knew that the Brooklyn wizard of proofreading 
might easily take a whack at Arrowsmith, and God Almighty look at the 
things he has found in a book said by all scientists to be totally free from 

Of course it would be impossible to make many (it may be impos 
sible to make any) of the corrections indicated by him. I have red-penciled 
a few which you might care to use if there is ever another big edition 
of Arrowsmith. I don t, for instance, see why in the phrase "smart aleck" 
I should capitalize the "Aleck." True it was once a definite reference to 
an unknown gent named Aleck, but now it has come to be a phrase with 
little consideration of the personal in it. 

You may remember I said the one trouble with Feipel was that he 
had almost no sense of humor. This is clearly indicated on the last page 

1 These United States edited by Ernest Gruening, Boni & Liveright, 1924. 

2 Book of Short Stories, Appleton, 1918. 

8 "Young Man Axelbrod" in Short Stories edited by H. C. Schweikert, HB&Co., 

[1925] 187 

of his letter where he questions "feetball coach" in which Pickerbough 
was, of course, trying to be humorous. And when he says: "What are 
we to understand by told G.U. stories (17), wimpish little men (288), 
a scad of money (331), and club-tie* (410)?"; of course it isn t my fault 
if he doesn t get the implications any more than it would be his fault if 
I didn t get the implications in a letter of his. 

If you want to make the red-lined corrections, you have my bene 
ficent permission. Don t forget him as a person some day to be used on 
a book of, for instance, the type of Mencken s American Language in 
which, as a scholarly work, every syllable is subject to the most carping 
criticism (though why a carp should criticize is a question to be decided 
not by me but by Mr. Feipel). 

Yours sincerely, 
Sinclair Lews 

In this period Lewis had been at work on a short novel in which he used 
the Canadian trip as background. It was written primarily as & serial. 

The Shelton, New York, October 24 
Dear Alf : 

Collier s will publish the last installment of Mantrap in their number 
for June 4, and they agree that you may publish the book any time after 
June i st. I should think it might be a good thing to have it not later than 
June 3 so that it will catch most of the outgoing trans- Atlantic business. 

Yours sincerely, 
Sinclair Lewis 

At the end of October Lewis sailed -for Bermuda and stayed at the Hotel 
Frascati. Mrs. Lewis rented George Arliss s New York flat for the win 
ter, at 1 57 East jfth Street. 

November 6 
Dear Red: 

If Mantrap is to appear in June, it should be in our spring announce 
ment list and have the benefit of the entire range of spring traveling. So 
it is time to ask you for an almost final decision on book publication. 
You have had all sorts of advice from all sorts of people on the question, 
but you know the considerations perfectly well yourself and your name 
goes on the book. Now that you have been away from us all for a little 
while, it will, I think, have fallen into order in your mind so that you will 
have a sure hunch as to what is best to do. So will you take a walk, think 
it over, and let me know? 


Everything serene here; we miss your visits. I hope Bermuda is fun. 
Shall be glad to have letters and know how you fare. 


Hotel Frascati, Bermuda 
November 10 
Dear Alf: 

I am extremely happy to be in Bermuda. I like it just as much as you 
said I would. After a week of loafing except for a book review for 
Canby I am feeling superb and now into the play with all four feet. I 
should think I shall be here another three weeks. 

I still don t see any reason why we shouldn t publish Mantrap as a 
book. Looking back at it I recall nothing shoddy in it, and as for the 
critics who insist that I have no right to do anything but social docu 
ments, they may all go to hell. I have pretty much worked on that theory 
with them anyway and I have seen no evil results. I am enclosing a sheet 
giving my idea of a description of the book, and from it you may get 
one or two suggestions for your descriptive material. 

Regards to all the shop, 


P.S. I am enclosing a letter from the man who is interested in an Italian 
translation of Babbitt. Will you please take care of this? Ordinarily, of 
course, we refuse to give any one person the exclusive rights to trans 
lations. But from what I know of Italian publishers, I rather think that 
this man is absolutely correct in saying they are tricky birds to deal with 
and that, if they got the right to the book, they would be very likely to 
hire the cheapest and least competent person possible to do the trans 
lation. In any case the amount of money Involved will necessarily be very 
small and we can t lose more than a couple of billion Russian roubles, 
which is the precise price of a drink of Canadian Club in the happy isle 
of Bermuda. 

I have a letter from Mrs. Brody, the translator of Babbitt and Arrow- 
swtith, saying that Kurt Wolff has decided after all to bring out Arrow- 
STnith complete, without any cuts, although they will have to make two 
volumes of it, amounting in all to about 800 pages. It seems to me that 
those people are really giving every conceivable effort to doing a splendid 
job, and I m damned glad that we are hooked up with them. As soon as 
you set up Mantrap send proofs over to Wolff they will probably faint 

[1925] 189 

with joy at having at least one short book to translate . . . providing 
they don t think the damned thing is too lowbrow for the German 

Equally ever, 

The correspondence with the office continued while Lewis was in Ber 
muda and dealt chiefly with matters pertaining to Mantrap proofs, jacket 
drawing, descriptive material, and a possible sale of film rights. 

Bermuda, November 26 
Dear Alf : 

I shall leave here on December mh and be in New York on the i4th, 
going to the Shelton. According to the way the steamers run, I shall not 
be able to get any mail sent later than noon of December 4th. 

The play goes on well and I feel fine. It has been a good stunt coming 
here. There may be a letter or two coming from you on the next two 
steamers (before the 12 days during which there will be no steamers at 
all) but in any case I ll see you in about two weeks. 

I do hope you have called up Gracie once or twice and perhaps had 
lunch or something with her. I am going to the Shelton when I go back, 
but I shall certainly have Christmas with her and I hope for any number 
of agreeable teas and that sort of thing without impairing either her 
independence or mine. 


After returning from Bermuda on December 24th, Lewis remained in 
New York and spent Christmas and New Year s in the city. A couple of 
weeks later he went to Kansas City to get material from friendly ministers 
for Elmer Gantry. 



Portrait of a Preacher 


Linwood Boulevard Methodist Church, 
Kansas City, Missouri 
Jan 23d 
Dear Don: 

Here s end of galleys (of Mmtrap). I ve never been so busy in my 
life as I have been here, rushing around being took to warious organiza 
tions, but I feel fine & it s been darn valuable, darn interesting. Stidger * 
is a corker (& his book sermons are excellent) & has helped me a lot on 
preacher novel. I leave here for Santa Fe on Thur. to begin loaf-Fll buy 
car there or El Paso, depending on weather. Regards. 


La Fonda Hotel 
Santa Fe, New Mexico 
Feb. 3 

By this time you will know from my telegram that I found it rather 
cold here and that I am going on to San Francisco and work back buying 
a car there so as to see this country again in warmer weather. But cold 
or not it has been interesting. I spent a night at an Indian pueblo with 
Mary Austin and some other people in order to be there to see an Indian 
buffalo dance the next morning. And a damned good spectacle it was. 

I got more out of Kansas City for the preacher book than could be 
imagined; it was not only Bill Stidger I wrote to Don how really excel- 

1 William L. Stidger, pastor of Linwood Boulevard Methodist Church. 


lent his book sermons are, and I hope you send him out all the books he 
wantsbut at least a dozen other preachers of all denominations who 
varied from mild sympathy to real friendliness. I am going back there to 
start planning the book, as I can ask any one of these dozen or more 
preachers for the information I want, stay there a couple of months, and 
after that . . . God knows! I feel fine and think the adventure is in every 
way a great success. 


February 9 
Dear Red: 

I am risking this to the St. Francis in Frisco. Your letter of February 
third came in yesterday. I was away then; my mother has had a slight 
stroke and I had to go to see her. In fact, Don and I were having a little 
holiday down in South Carolina when I was called back on account of 
her illness. Don is sticking out the two weeks. I saw Collier s this morning 
with the initial installment of Mantrap. They seem to play it up nicely. 

I am endlessly pleased at the tone of these good letters from you. 
They sound as if you were having fun and going strong and running your 
own show. I have had some nice letters from Stidger. You can t imagine 
how pleased he was to have you with him. When Don and I were in 
Washington, I saw the big weather map in the station there and noticed 
how cold it was at Santa Fe something like 26 degrees the day before 
and we said that you would not be hanging around such cold parts long. 
I think it is sensible for you to go back when it s warmer. Keep traveling 
and working, and you ll be happy. Good luck! 

Ever yours, 

Hotel St. Francis 
San Francisco 
Feb. ii 
Dear Alf: 

San Francisco at last, and in a few days will start driving Eastward. 
I have a couple of ideas which I wish you would think over. You may 
have noticed two articles by George Sterling in the Mercury recently, 
one on Joaquin Miller and one on Ambrose Bierce. I wonder if we could 
get George to do a whole book on the golden days of California literature, 
with such personalities as Bierce, Miller, Jack London, Gertrude Ather- 

[1926] 195 

ton, Stoddard, etc; the old days of Carmel and Monterey; the early days 
of the good San Francisco cafes, and the Bohemian Club, and so on. It s 
not so much that any of these people, except London, were very impor 
tant, as that the old Ufe was peculiarly brilliant, gay and romantic, against 
a romantic background. Much of this George has gotten into the Miller 
article in the February Mercury. I think he might be tempted to do the 
book if you were interested, and if you are you had better get after him 
before Knopf does. 

The other idea is a kind of Funk and Wagnalls stunt in which there 
might be a few agreeable millions. Is there at the present moment any 
good up-to-date household medical book "doctor book"? If there is not, 
I don t see why one could not be sold to almost every household in the 
country. My idea would be to have it edited by someone like Dr. Morris 
Fishbein, editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association. 
Certainly as editor of this great sheet, Morris could get hold of the best 
people in the country. My idea would be to have chapters done by people 
as well known as Will Mayo, Richard or Hugh Cabot, and Pusey (I think 
that is the name of the big dermatologist) and to make the book a com 
plete popular encyclopedia of diets, sanitation, preventive medicine, symp 
toms of diseases, and the like, with particular attention to the care of 

If you like either of these ideas, I give them to you as a birthday 
present ... I suppose you must have birthdays, though I have never 
caught you in the act. 

Yours sincerely, 

February 18 
Dear Red: 

It was good to have even a faint talk with you over the telephone 
yesterday. I gather that it is a book in which Pola Negri, the movies and 
Gouverneur Morris are all mixed up and that you want to talk in terms 
of $5000 advance. That s all right as long as the advance depends on a look 
or more information. 

The George Sterling idea is fine. I remember his articles in The 
Mercury. When your letter came, I reread the one on Bierce, and I have 
written to him making a definite proposal to publish such a book with a 
$500 advance if he will write it. 

The family doctor book by real authorities is worth thinking about, 
but I think it should be done by someone more inclined to sell books by 


subscription or by house-to-house canvassing. And I have heard of an 
other similar enterprise nearly ready for publication which we ought to 
see before we get much excited. I shrink a little from the book which is, 
after all, a symposium. It is such a job to drive a team of so many horses, 
and if the editor and the authors are good, they all ought to be well paid 
until the publisher hasn t much left for his labor except his pains and 
they re apt to be fairly painful. 

We are in the midst of February s worst weather. The soft coal 
smoke has added a new word to New York s vocabulary, "smog" smoke 
and fog. It s worse than London! Business is good. Monty x and Hal and 
everyone are well. Don is coming back next week from a three weeks 
holiday by himself in North Carolina. He seems to have had a really good 
time. How s your secretary working out; where have you been; and 
what s all the news? Dictate a good long letter to me when you have the 


Del Monte Lodge 
Pebble Beach, California 
Feb. 19 
Dear Alf: 

The situation about the Pola Negri book is this: I met her here with 
her friend Gouverneur Morris (and, incidentally, with Valentino, to 
whom she is reputed to be engaged, which seems slightly doubtful). 
Morris told me that she had written a book that she really HAD and that 
it was not by some press-agent and I got a shot at it. After an examina 
tion of it, I rather think it is possible that she did write it certainly it has 
none of the earmarks of the press-agent or literary hack. What you would 
have in the book is a not disgraceful performance backed up by the 
strength of her name. I suppose that Pola is about as well known an inter 
national actress as there is, although perhaps her screen fame is not so 
great as three or four others. Whether it is waxing or waning is something 
I cannot determine. So on the whole while I was distinctly interested in 
the book, I certainly did not feel like making a definite offer for it you 
may remember that I have an authorization to do that in case of emer 
gency. I telephoned you principally to find out whether you would be 
willing to make a fair advance with, of course, good royalty, if the book 

^Although the possibility was discussed several years before, Montgomery 
Belgion joined the staff of Harcourt, Brace in September 1925. 

[1926] 197 

should prove of interest to you. Morris is going to send the book on Pola s 
behalf to Paul Reynolds. 1 1 wish you would call up Reynolds and tell him 
of your interest. 

Pola herself is really a very lively and agreeable person, and while she 
probably thinks a good deal about the well-known sex appeal, she is cer 
tainly not the lanquid vampire, but rather lively and good fun. 

We are leaving here in three days for Los Angeles, and I hope to find 
mail there. Where I shall get mail after that, God only knows. 


P.S. Why don t Hake and my nephew Freeman 2 go to Europe together 
next summer? If Hake and you are for it, I think Freeman and his father 
could be made to see the light. 

Los Angeles Biltmore 
February 24th 

It was good to have your letter of the i8th when I arrived here 
yesterday. I think that in my letter from Pebble Beach I covered almost 
all the news. There is nothing to add to it except that since then we have 
had a fine three-day drive from Pebble Beach through glorious mountains 
and valleys, and that we are hovering here for just a couple of days to get 
mail and have some laundry done. Tomorrow or next day we are off to 
Phoenix and Tucson, via the Imperial Valley. 

Grace is going to join me in Tucson on the 6th for two or three 
weeks motoring, after which she will return to New York and the kid, 
and I shall settle down in Kansas City to start the plan on the book. It will 
be terribly nice to have the hike with her to be with her and yet not tied 
up to the necessity of going to parties and all the rest of the parade which 
is so fatiguing in New York. She is, of course, the most delightful and 
amusing companion conceivable for a motor hike and loves the "wide 
open spaces" even more than I do. 

I say start the plan of the book, but actually the plan is already 
formed in my head in a rather complete way. It is now largely a question 
of developing the details of which I have already thought. I have been 
going to a lot of churches since I first hit Kansas City, including a fair 
number out here on the Coast. . . . 

Go in and kiss Don, Hal, Monty and Gus on the ear for me. I have 

1 New York literary agent. 

2 Freeman Lewis, son of Lewis s doctor brother. "Hake" is Hastings Harcourt. 


no particular choice as to which ear you select. Tell each of them that I 
have enjoyed the good long letters they have planned to write to me and 
have never written, and I hope they have enjoyed my equally long replies. 


February 25 
Dear Red: 

I just have yours about the Pola Negri book; we also have your tele 
gram with the Tucson address; and Grace was in for a visit yesterday 
morning with her word of your plans. So I feel quite in touch with you 
again. I ll call up Reynolds at once, and we ll see what we shall see about 
Pola Negri. 

By the law of contraries, I suppose you re having glorious weather 
and bright sunshine. Today we re deep in rain and slush, and all the lights 
in the office are turned on. 

The idea of Hastings and Freeman going abroad together has some 
points to it, but Hastings is now pretty well committed to a summer of 
arduous and special tutoring on the chance of making college next au 
tumn. And when he seems to want to work so hard, I don t feel like 
stopping him. Also he went abroad last summer. I d be inclined to wait on 
this idea for a couple of years. 

Ever yours, 

Santa Rita Hotel 
Tucson, Ariz. 
March 3 
Dear Alf: 

Safely in Tucson, which is a hell of a nice town with some intelligent 
people. It has been a great motor trip down from Pebble Beach with 
plenty of desert and one delightful four hours across in old Mexico with 
some real beer. Gracie arrives here the end of this week and we will be 
motoring off for three weeks or so before she returns to New York. I 
think there is no news except that I feel bully and am thinking constantly 
of the book. 


[1926] 199 

March 8 
Dear Red: 

Glad to have your cheerful letter from Tucson. I wish I could be 
with you for a week without taking the God-awful trip from here. This 
town has been a mess of slush and fog and dirt for the last month. 

I "see by the papers" that Pola is thinking of resting in the arms of 
Rudolph with some permanence. I suppose it is the rebound from the 
attentions you paid to her. 

I ll scratch my head over the matter of the second serial rights of 
Mantrap. I don t think we ought to promise them to any one yet. 

Ever yours, 

Somewhere in the desert between Douglas, Arizona, and 
Lordsburg, New Mex. . . . March 1 6 
Dear Alf: 

Neither Gracie nor myself has ever had quite so joyous a hike as we 
are now enjoying. She arrived in Tucson on March <5, and after we had 
loafed about that agreeable university town (to which I had motored 
from San Francisco, and where I fired my secretary, a nice boy but too 
damned collegian to be efficient yet) for a few days, we hired a motor 
caravan for a couple of weeks, and with it we are now proceeding in a 
delightfully slow manner on a circular tour which will bring us to Phoe 
nix in ten days more. Then we ll drop the caravan, and go on just with 
my car toward Santa Fe. Perhaps Gracie will go as far as Kansas City 
with me; depends on how long we take on the way, because for once we 
are keeping ourselves from going so darn fast that we don t see anything. 

We motor by ourselves, in my own car, top down, all day; then at 
evening we have waiting for us, in the motor caravan, a perfect dinner 
prepared by a Jap who is a real chef; and sleep in the bunks on the side of 
the car, outdoors in the soft yet rousing desert air, and wake in the morn 
ing, miles from any house, to look across cactus and sagebrush to huge 
rock mountains bright in the morning sun. ... On the way we have 
crossed the Mexican border at Nogales for a bottle of beer; and we stayed 
for two days on a real ranch; and for the first time in fifteen years I was 
on horseback and, though naturally I got pretty sore auf der bot, I enor 
mously enjoyed it. Great hike! And G and I have never been so serene. 

Have you ever been bitten by a rattlesnake? Neither have 1. 1 have a 
Winchester carbine, and I m such a dead shot at bottles and tin cans that 


when I come into a grocery store, all the groceries vault howling from 
the shelves and hide. 


March 20 
Dear Red: 

I am very happy over your splendid letter from "Somewhere between 
Douglas, Arizona, and Lordsburg, New Mexico." It does sound fine for 
you both. Don t hurry away from it the days of rest and outdoors, with 
enough to do to keep your fingers busy. 

Everything serene here. Travelers orders are coming in encourag 
ingly for Mantrap. I think we ll have advance orders for between twenty 
and thirty thousand on publication and then be ready for a quick turn 
over. I suppose some folks would tell you that advance orders would run 
between forty and fifty thousand. They may, but I am sort of getting the 
habit of prophesying minimums. 

The office is pretty much shot by the flu. Monty is out at our house 
recovering, and three or four people are out every day with it. Upstate 
is particularly bad. So you re both lucky to be in Arizona. I m going 
down to Pinehurst with Hastings today for a week. He is home for his 
spring holiday. 

Ever yours, 

Hotel Adams 
Phoenix, Arizona 
March 22 
Dear Alf: 

We ve finished the circular tour in the motor caravan through South 
ern Arizona, very happily, through the most glorious mountain and desert 
scenery you could possibly imagine; we drop the caravan here and to 
morrow Grace and I start for Santa Fe on our own. Both of us feel suberb. 
(That last word seems to be a cross between suburb and superb interpret 
it as you will.) 

I have read Microbe Hunters at last, and I am quite daft about it. 
I have never read finer drama, finer sarcasm, clearer exposition, deeper 
perception of human purposes; and those things must be in the writing as 
well as in the thought. 

I note that the Los Angeles Times is going to publish Arrowsimth, 

[1926] 201 

second serial, beginning next Sunday. I had forgotten, or I never knew, 
that the second serial rights had been sold* How many papers are pub 
lishing it, and at what terms? 

Til be in Kansas City in about two weeks, and very keen and ready 
to start on the preacher book. 


La Fonda Hotel 
Santa Fe, New Mexico 
March 29 
Dear Alf : 

At last we have motored into Santa Fe, the end of our motoring. 
According to reports, there is now mud pretty near all the way to Kansas 
City, and good ripe juicy mud, through which there would be no fun 
motoring, so I am hiring a man to drive my car on to K.C and after a 
couple of days here, Grace and I are going on there by train. She will stay 
four or five days, then back to New York, I shall get some kind of fur 
nished apartment and stay in K.C. at least two months. In a week from 
now, I hope to be hard at work on the book, for which I am very keen 
and ready. Next summer I may spend in the Middlewest, but wherever I 
am, I ll be settled down and at work. I ll probably spend next winter 
abroad, but I hope to have the whole first draft of the book complete 
before I sail, and revise it over there. 

Damn it, the title Sounding Brass is gone. This spring DufEeld s will 
publish a book under that title by an English girl named Ethel Mannin, 
one that has already run into seven editions in England. I know this be 
cause they have written asking me to do a preface for the book (which 
same I ain t going to do). So we must have a new title. What do you think 
of this? The chief character is going to be named Elmer Bloor, and what 
do you think of REV. BLOOR? Actually, I suppose it would be more dis 
tinctive than Sounding Brass, with its metaphorical nature. 

I m enclosing letter from Russia. I think you might send these people 
a set of my books, Hal s biography of me, and one or two of the press 
photographs. Charge the set to me, if you d like. And why don t you send 
them Carl s Lincoln? How is Paul s book going? 



March 30 
Dear Red: 

I am just back from a few days holiday with Hastings and have your 
note from Phoenix. What a splendid time you and Grace must have had! 
I m really happy about it. 

In regard to the second serial rights of ArrowsTmth: We finally made 
an arrangement for release early this year with the Reader s Syndicate, an 
energetic off-shoot of the McClure crowd, run by R. M. Cleveland and 
C. B. Brown. They set off their broadside and exploitation the middle of 
January, and we haven t yet had a definite report of sales. You will have 
a report by next month. 

I have been watching the Pulitzer prize business all winter, and I d 
bet about eighty to twenty that Arrowsmith will get the prize this year. 
It ought to mean something to Arrcrwyrmthhow much, I don t know. It 
certainly will be a great help in getting Mantrap started, as the prize is 
announced at the time of the Columbia Commencement, the first week in 
June, 1 just when Mantrap is to be published. 

Let me know how you organize your life and work in Kansas City. 
It s fine to think of you started on another novel. 

Ever yours, 

Hotel Ambassador, 
Kansas City, Mo. 
April 4 
Dear Hal: 

Gracie and I are safe in Kansas City, after 3200 miles of motoring, on 
some 2000 of which she was present. She leaves tonight for NY and to 
morrow I shall be settled down in the Ambassador and busy on a definite 
plan for the novel. I m going to work for a while with a Unitarian 
and generally disillusioned preacher who was for ten years a Methodist 
preacher, whom I ll use as cyclopedia for data about church organization 
and the like. He will not, however, have anything like the share taken by 
Paul in Anowsmth, and it is distinctly understood that he is temporary 
assistant in no sense a collaborator. ... I ll probably stay here a couple 
of months, then find some reasonably cool and quiet place for work all 
summer. I ll doubtless go to Germany for the winter some time in the 
autumn, but I hope to have the first draft of the book all done before I 
sail. ... It looms up better and better; lots of new dope. Grace may go 
to Germany in June; in that case I ll join her, say late in October. 
1 -The Pulitzer Prizes are actually announced early in May. 

[1926] 20? 

The trip has been a great success. I wish you could have been with 
me in Arizona day after day of grim mountains, desert but not dead 
desert, rather alive with constantly changing flora, cactus, poppies, palo 
verde trees, mesquite cedars. Men who combine Western virility with 
some tradition of courtesy probably from Virginia. Real cow ranches and 
some riding. Funny little pioneer towns, then Tucson with its university 
and yearning would-be writers and new houses in the Spanish style, 
rather striking. Gorgeous sunsets behind mesas. Waking in the morning 
to cool sweet air. Great! 


Hotel Ambassador 
Kansas City 
April 4 
Dear Alf : 

I hope they do award me the Pulitzer prize on Arrowsmith but you 
know, don t you, that ever since the Main Street burglary, 1 1 have planned 
that if they ever did award it to me, I would refuse it, with a polite but 
firm letter which I shall let the press have, and which ought to make it 
impossible for any one ever to accept the novel prize (not the play or 
history prize) thereafter without acknowledging themselves as willing to 
sell out. There are three chief reasons the Main Street and possibly the 
Babbitt matters, the fact that a number of publishers advertise Pulitzer 
Prize novels not, as the award states, as "best portraying the highest stand 
ard of American morals and manners" or whatever it is but as the in 
every-way "best novel of the year," and third the whole general matter 
of any body arrogating to itself the right to choose a best novel. 

Just on the chance that they may give me the award, I wish you 
would secure for me, so that I may prepare a proper answer, Robert 
Morss Lovett s letter denouncing them giving away their turning down 
the "committee of experts" on the matter of Main Street. That letter you 
reprinted, as an ad for Main Street, and should have in your files. And can 
you get for me the exact wording of the terms of the award that "stand- 

1 In 1921 the Pulitzer Prize Committee selected to recommend the award for the 
best novel of 1920 consisted of Hamlin Garland, Stuart Sherman, and Robert Morss 
Lovett. Their choice was Main Street, but the judges rejected their nomination and 
selected Edith Wharton s The Age of Innocence. A lively dispute in the press fol 
lowed the announcement, and the Committee finally published their recommenda 
tions for the sake of the record. 


ard of manners and morals" stuff? If you ll be so good as to send me these 
two before long, I ll be ready for them. 

You ask how I m going to organize my work here. Grace leaves for 
NY tonight, and tomorrow I move into the Hotel above; a most agreeable 
small furnished apartment with two bedrooms, one of which, mit beds 
removed, I turn into work-room, a living room, and kitchen-dining-room. 
I shall have a cook of my own, but also have hotel service to fall back on. 
A highy disillusioned and amiable Unitarian preacher here, who was a 
Methodist preacher, both in city and country (for a time an assistant to 
Chris Reisner, who is now building the skyscraper church in NY), will 
work with me in the matter of facts, of exact data. I already have the 
story so well organized in my mind that I hope to have the whole plan 
done in a month, and be into the actual writing. Next summer I ll spend 
in some such place as a cottage on some Minnesota lake. Probably I ll go 
abroad, joining Grace there, in the fall, but by then I hope to have the 
whole first draft complete. 

Besides this Unitarian, I ll have at least thirty other preachers to 
whom to turn for information andthough Gawd how I dread it I shall 
attend various churches with frequency. . . . Hence I d better beat it 
now, and go to Easter service, this gray and snowy and generally joyous 
Easter morn! 


April 5 
Dear Red: 

I am glad to have your letter and the telegram giving your permanent 
Kansas City address. I hope to see Grace soon after she returns to New 
York and hear about you and your trip in more detail. 

We have sent a copy of Microbe Hunters to Fred Howe. Paul has 
just shown me your letter to him about the book. He is immensely grati 
fied to have you write to him so warmly about it. The book is doing well 
it has sold a little over 5000 already and is making its way to a good 
sale. And then, of course, it has all sorts of chances for special sales to 
reading circles and Chautauquas, and we are seeing what we can do to 
have it made required reading in introductory courses in bacteriology. 

I am not absolutely happy about Reverend Bloor as a title. How 
would the two words The Reverend do? Throughout small-town Amer 
ica, that is the general term used in referring to the local minister and 

[1926] 205 

stands for ministers somewhat in the same way that Main Street stands for 
the small town. 

It s fine to know you re really started to work again. 

Ever yours, 

April 7 
Dear Red: 

I have yours of April fourth about the Pulitzer Prize, etc. It led me 
to go digging back to the old box of clippings, and I certainly did get a 
kick out of the recreation of those most interesting days. I enclose a copy 
of the advertisement in which we reproduced Lovett s letter giving the 
exact phrase about "the wholesome atmosphere of American life, etc." 
Your decision in regard to the matter is wise and fine, I only hope it turns 
out so that the affair can be handled with just the right gesture. It would 
be a little awkward, for instance, if they should send you an advance 
announcement and ask if you would accept. 

All that you say about the organization of your work on the new 
novel is mighty promising. Your letters have the old-time ring, and I am 
glad for you and for the book. I hope your Easter eggs and lilies and 
hallelujahs set well. 

Ever yours, 

In March Lewis refused an offer from Haldeman-Julius of a small outright 
fee for the publication of his short stories in the Little Blue Book series. 
This resulted in an exchange of correspondence <with Haldeman-Julius 
that brought about the offer of a small royalty. But since the idea of the 
publication by Harcourt, Brace of a volume of his short stories had come 
up from time to time, Lews decided against accepting, 

Kansas City, April 8 
Dear Alf: 

If this damned preacher book takes me long enough we may possibly 
want to publish a volume of my short stories between it and Mantrap and 
so I think it would be much better, particularly as there is almost no 
money in it (And God knows no glory) to tell Haldeman-Julius that we 
are not yet ready to close with him, and if he comes back with a snotty 
letter tell him to go to hell. 

I know what you mean about the soundness of The Reverend as a 


title but there are two things against it: It might seem rather flippant and 
prepare the reader for a cheaply humorous book; and in England and on 
the continent it would have none of the connotation it would carry in 
this country. Fortunately, there is no hurry about the decision on this. 
I wish you would have the two titles The Reverend and Rev. Bloor typed 
out (and you might add to it a third conceivable candidate The Salesman 
o-f Salvation) and show them to Gus Gehrs, the Baker & Taylor people, 
and some good high-brow like Stuart Sherman and see what they think. 
I think you will find that in the long run you will like Rev. Bloor better 
and better as it becomes more distinctive in your mind, just as we all liked 
Babbitt better and better as it became more familiar to us. 

I have heard from a source quite dissociated from you your hunch 
that I am to receive the Pulitzer Novel Prize and so I am waiting the 
more eagerly for the dope which I asked you to send me. I hope you will 
not think that my decision in this matter is altogether insane. Certainly it 
is not too hasty a one; I have been thinking it over any number of times 
during the last five or six years, though I never could believe that they 
really would give me the prize. 

Gawd, the new novel goes swell. I have a perfect corker to assist me 
on it the Reverend Dr. Birkhead, of whom I wrote you. He is giving me 
exactly the dope I need. Twenty new scenes appear every hour and at the 
present moment I feel fairly sure it is going to be much the biggest and 
much the most dramatic thing I have done. 

May God help you in your prayerful efforts, brother, and any time 
you need the help of the clergy call on me and I will see to it that your 
petition ascends to the throne of God ahead of those of Alfred Knopf, 
Horace Liveright or Calvin Coolidge. 


April 14 
Dear Red: 

I m tremendously glad to hear from you directly, though it s extraor 
dinary how little I have been actually out of touch with where you are 
and what you ve been doing. Even in a desert you have the faculty of 
bumping into a lot of people who apparently rush to the nearest wireless 
station, tell the world how you look, what you said, and how many glasses 
of beer you just had. 

I don t know what Kansas City is like as a dwelling place, but I dare 
say you can stand it if anybody can; and since you have been surrounded 

[1926] 207 

by the Middlewest and the Rev. Bill Stidger, I don t see why it isn t as 
good a place to turn out the novel as anywhere else. 

I haven t seen Grace yet, but I met someone who saw somebody else 
who saw her on the Avenue, and she appears at third-hand to be in very 
good form. We re getting all primed for Mantrap around here. 

Very hastily, 

April 14 
Dear Red: 

We have cogitated over the title. Rev. Bloor doesn t quite suit us. 
It sounds a little too satirical. We want all the church people who take 
their preachers seriously to read the novel. Perhaps there is a clue to the 
title in what we have all fallen into the habit of calling the book "the 
preacher novel." Why not call it The Preacher? I do not like The Sales 
man of Salvation, nor does anyone else here. Perhaps a name would be all 
right if it were not Bloor. The right tide will come between now and 
next fall. 

How do you intend to handle the question of serialization of this 
book? If you want me to handle it, I ll be glad to, though you can do it 
just as well yourself. However, I think it would be better not to get a 
board of editors buzzing around you until the book is done. 

Ever yours, 

Kansas City, April 2 1 
Dear Alf : 

About the serialization I should seriously doubt if there will be any 
serialization at all. In any case, you are quite right in saying that if there 
is to be, it would be asinine to let the editors even talk about it before the 
book is finished. 

About the title: just at present I am thinking rather affectionately of: 
THE REVEREND DOCTOR. But it is really much too early to worry about the 
title at all. 

Everything about the book is going superbly and we are getting fine 
new dramatic scenes every day. All of this damned fool preaching in 
pulpits and so on which I have been doing has been largely to give me a 
real feeling of the church from the inside. 1 

1 On one of these occasions while he was addressing a congregation, Lewis defied 
God to strike him dead and held a watch in his hand for ten minutes. 


No, I am not satisfied either with The Preacher or The Reverend. 
I agree with you in cutting out The Salesman of Salvation. 


April 23 
Dear Red: 

I am sorry to have to inform you that the frequent and delightful 
exchange of letters between us that has done so much to make a long 
winter endurable will have to be interrupted because I am sailing tonight 
on the Majestic to spend about three weeks at 10 Bury Street. I don t 
know whether you realize that you have been in England every time I 
have been there so far, and I expect I shall be thinking of you there per 
haps even more often than I do here, which is oftener than you think 
from my letters. I see you re being mentioned frequently in the news 
papers these days. 

With all my blessings, 


April 23 
Dear Red: 

I saw in the paper that the Pulitzer Prize organization met at Colum 
bia University yesterday, and this morning I notice that the office is for 
warding to you "a personal and confidential" communication from the 
secretary of the University. 

I just have your letter of the 2ist. What you say about your doubts 
of serializing the preacher novel warms my heart. If you can afford it 
when the time comes, it may be just the thing to forego. I like The 
Reverend Doctor as a tide. 

Your preaching business has stirred this part of the country. I enclose 
a couple of typical clippings and a letter. It is extraordinary the number 
of letters and telephone calls we have had about it. Luck and love! 


Kansas City, April 24 
Dear Hal: 

I have been delighted to receive your weekly letter in the spirit and 
almost overwhelmed with astonishment to receive one of them in black 

[1926] 209 

and white. I am getting into the preacher book with both feet and it looks 

I am going to spend the summer somewhere in the Middle West 
working on the preacher book and then join Gracie in Germany in the 
fall. I expect to have a cottage, and a reasonably comfortable one, on some 
lake in Northern Minnesota or Wisconsin. Why don t yon get away from 
your damned ocean for a while and come out and join me? 


Kansas City, April 26 
Personal and Confidential 
Dear Alf : 

Well, doggone it, it s happened Fve got the Pulitzer Prize, and I ve 
been spending about as much time in refusing this thousand dollars as 
ordinarily I d spend in earning it. 

The following is the letter received yesterday afternoon: 

April 23, 1926 
My dear Mr. Lewis 

I take very great pleasure in notifying you, in confidence, that the prize of 
$1000, established by the will of the late Joseph Pulitzer for the best American 
novel published during the year 1925 has been awarded to Arrowsmith, pub 
lished by Harcourt, Brace and Co. 

Public announcement of this prize will not be made until Monday, May 
3rd, and in due course a check covering the amount of the prize will be sent 
to you. 

Very truly yours 
Frank D. Fackenthal 

So. This gives us plenty of time. Go over with the greatest care the draft 
of my letter of refusal which I am enclosing. You have asked me to write 
them lightly but my God, you can t refuse a thing like this without giving 
reasons and without having in that refusal a document which stands on its 
own feet, completely self-explanatory. But I have tried to make it as un- 
flamboyant and as short as I could while including everything necessary, 
I m meekly (well so so) willing to hear any criticisms. ... I think you 
might have Don look it over and, still more, JES both because of Jes s 
literary attainments and because of his hatred of the machine at which I 
want to hit. Do have him! Then I ll send it to them after May 5th. Perhaps 
you d better wire me what changes Spingarn and Don and you think 3 d 
better be made in the letter. 

An asinine, fantastic, useless, expensive gesture, refusing this prize. 


But ... I can do no other. By the way, of course $250 of the prize 
would be coming to Paul, and if he wants, I ll pay him that rite now, or 
you are authorized to do so for me. I can t write to Paul himself; there 
has been no friendliness in his letters, no interest, and I m through with 
the vain task of trying to pump it up. But he has every right to the quarter 
which I am thus arbitrarily refusing for him. Tell him so, when you see 

You probably realize that most or all of this idiotic appearing in 
pulpits and general ecclesiastical hell-raising is to have the chance to be 
behind the scenes, completely in, with church matters, and it has worked 
like a charm. I have a Sunday School class of 1 5 preachers who meet for 
lunch every Wednesday noon and whom I razz amiably . . . and who 
like me. The definite plan is going down, fast, and all looks well. . . . 
Then lakeside quiet, and the book itself. 

Let me know, P.D.Q., by wire or letter, what you think of my letter, 
and wht plans for issuing same to great heart of genl public. 


I imcst have in that Natl Inst Arts Letters stuff to make a complete case. 
They never let the news of my refusal out. I was too polite! 

You remember, don t you, that "I can do no other" was Luther s 

April 29 
Dear Red: 

Joel and I have just had lunch over the Pulitzer Prize business, and 
we have gone over your statement with eagle eyes. Did you notice that 
the formal letter to you contained the phrase "for the best American 
novel" which is quite different from the actual wording of the prize con 
ditions. Joel recalled a circumstance to my memory which I had forgot 
ten. Since the Main Street affair, the committee recommended George 
Kelly s play The Show-Off for the Prize. Brander Matthews saw Pres 
ident Butler and had the Prize awarded to Hatcher Hughes s Hell Bent 
for Heaven -which is another instance of the dubious administration. 

It would be even better if the press carried the announcement that 
you had won the Prize for a day or two, and then the announcement of 
your refusal. I think the Associated Press would prefer to carry it on the 
Kansas City date line, and I suggest that you hand your statement to their 
Kansas Qty correspondent. In the meantime, send me a copy in its final 
form, and I ll telegraph you when I have received it, so that at the same 

[1926] 211 

time you hand it to the Kansas City man I can take it to a friend of mine 
in the Associated Press upstairs. 

Now as to the statement. It is not quite serious and dignified enough 
in tone. You re taking your proper position as the champion of the artist. 
You are not attacking the Y.M.C.A. or the taste of suburban dinner-tables 
they may really be sympathetic to your point of view. What you re 
doing are three things: objecting to the standard set up in the Foundation; 
objecting to the misrepresentation of the standard; objecting to the du 
bious administration of the awards. And fourth, you re objecting to liter 
ary prizes and academies in general. 

I think you might make a little more of the administration of the 
award. "Changing prize committee" is a loose phrase. The committee 
which recommends a book for the Prize is one thing: they are the people 
who recommended Main Street, for instance. The actual awarders of the 
Prize are the people to whom you refer by the words "imperial power." 
This should be cleaned up a little. 

I would be definite and say that you declined election to the Institute 
of Arts and Letters some years ago, as this shows the consistent policy on 
your part. 

The last sentence of the statement is a little gooey, and I don t know 
whether it is so damned "innocently" or not. I have pencilled in an idea 
for a concluding phrase, on which you might easily improve. 

That s that. Congratulations and best wishes! I have had more fun 
over this since your letter arrived yesterday afternoon than anything else 
in a long while. 

Ever yours, 

Kansas City, Sunday, May 2 
Dear Alf: 

I have gone over all your comments with care and have, I think, 
accepted all your changes, besides making quite a few on my own behalf. 
The present form of the statement seems to be pretty compact. 

I am enclosing two copies, one for yourself, one for the A.P. My 
many thanks for your labors on this. Joel has sent me a fine telegram 
which I much appreciate. Thank him for me if you see him. 

The book tramps right on. I couldn t have a better man than Birkhead 
to give me dope. Personally most charming as well as most learned, young 
enough to be comradely, he has had ten years as a Methodist preacher, 
ten as a Unitarian, both observantly; and though he doesn t even smoke, 
he enjoys language of the type made holy by Paul and Spike and myself. 


I ll be here two more weeks; then a week s interregnum while I motor 
to Minnesota and look over cottages; then settled down again for at least 
three months. 


PS Have you taken up with Paul the question of the $250 which this 
causes me to owe him? Let me know details of what writers and pub 
lishers say privately about my Pulitzer Prize insanity. Lots of them will 
just call it publicity-hounding. The previous prize winners will probably 
all be sore especially Booth Tarkington, who has twice accepted it (and 
for one bum novel, along with one good one). 

This summer would be your inspired chance for Ellen, Hake & you 
to ship car by boat to Chicago or Duluth. Come see me for a few days, 
then motor to Yellowstone Park or farther, & let Hake & some friend 
drive back. 

Letter to the Pulitzer Prize Committee which was enclosed in 
Lewis s letter of the second and which was later given to the 
Associated Press: 


I wish to acknowledge your choice of my novel Arrowsmith for the 
Pulitzer Prize. That prize I must refuse, and my refusal would be mean 
ingless unless I explained the reasons. 

All prizes, like all titles, are dangerous. The seekers for prizes tend to 
labor not for inherent excellence but for alien rewards; they tend to write 
this, or timorously to avoid writing that, in order to tickle the prejudices 
of a haphazard committee. And the Pulitzer Prize for Novels is peculiarly 
objectionable because the terms of it have been constantly and grievously 

Those terms are that the prize shall be given "for the American novel 
published during the year which shall best present the wholesome atmos 
phere of American life, and the highest standard of American manners 
and manhood." This phrase, if it means anything whatever, would appear 
to mean that the appraisal of the novels shall be made. not according to 
their actual literary merit but in obedience to whatever code of Good 
Form may chance to be popular at the moment. 

That there is such a limitation of the award is little understood. 
Because of the condensed manner in which the announcement is usually 
reported, and because certain publishers have trumpeted that any novel 
which has received the Pulitzer Prize has thus been established without 

[1926] 213 

qualification as the best novel, the public has come to believe that the prize 
is the highest honor which an American novelist can receive. 

The Pulitzer Prize for Novels signifies, already, much more than a 
convenient thousand dollars to be accepted even by such writers as smile 
secretly at the actual wording of the terms. It is tending to become a 
sanctified tradition. There is a general belief that the administrators of the 
prize are a pontifical body with the discernment and the power to grant 
the prize as the ultimate proof of merit. It is believed that they are always 
guided by a committee of responsible critics, though in the case both of 
this and other Pulitzer Prizes, the administrators can, and sometimes do, 
quite arbitrarily reject the recommendations of their supposed advisers. 

If already the Pulitzer Prize is so important, it is not absurd to suggest 
that in another generation it may, with the actual terms of the award 
ignored, become the one thing for which any ambitious novelist will 
strive; and the administrators of the prize may become a supreme court, 
a college of cardinals, so rooted and so sacred that to challenge them will 
be to commit blasphemy. Such is the French Academy, and we have had 
the spectacle of even an Anatole France intriguing for election. 

Only by regularly refusing the Pulitzer Prize can novelists keep such 
a power from being permanently set up over them. 

Between the Pulitzer Prizes, the American Academy of Arts and 
Letters and its training-school the National Institute of Arts and Letters, 
amateur boards of censorship, and the inquisition of earnest literary ladies, 
every compulsion is put upon writers to become safe, polite, obedient, 
and sterile. In protest, I declined election to the National Institute of Arts 
and Letters some years ago, and now I must decline the Pulitzer Prize. 

I invite other writers to consider the fact that by accepting the prizes 
and approval of these vague institutions, we are admitting their authority, 
publicly confirming them as the final judges of literary excellence, and 
I inquire whether any prize is worth that subservience. 

I am, sirs, 

Yours sincerely, 
Sinclair Lewis 

May 4 
Dear Red: 

It is late because we have been standing on our heads to do a prompt 
and careful job on your statement. You have done a perfect job and I am 
proud of you. 

The Associated Press here will distribute it tomorrow for release in 
the papers Thursday morning. They did not want it given to the AJP. in 


Kansas Qty, as that might cause confusion. They have promised to send 
it complete to the New York, Boston and Chicago press. And they may 
send it complete to the entire country; they cannot promise that because 
of the British strike. We are sending out a thousand copies by mail, with 
the following statement: 

The Associated Press is distributing the enclosed letter for release Thurs 
day A.M., May sixth. It is desirable that you have the complete text herewith. 

In addition to the press, we are sending this to the Publishers Weekly, the 
weeklies and monthlies, our list of booksellers and clerks, and to a careful 
list of about a hundred authors, such as Dreiser, Sandburg, Anderson, 
Gather, Mencken, etc. I went over the "best-selling" list for three years, 
and a list of best novels to catch all the most important names from Upton 
Sinclair to Hendrik Van Loon and from Ellen Glasgow to Edith Wharton. 
I am also sending the letter to the editors of such journals as the Christian 
Science Monitor. So I guess we have done a complete job. Tomorrow I 
shall send some to people in England who would be interested, including 

Macy s have just telephoned for a hundred Arro*wsmith. I think the 
reaction will be splendid. Laurence Stallings came in yesterday morning 
and said, "Wouldn t it be splendid if Lewis would refuse the Pulitzer 
prize!" And I had all I could do to keep my mouth shut. That s all tonight. 
Fine business! Now sit tight and don t say a word. 


May 5 
Dear Red: 

Well, you certainly got a run for your money on the news of your 
refusal of the Pulitzer Prize. The Associated Press office is on the floor 
above us, and we have become acquainted with some of the people there. 
I discussed the policy of its release with them on a friendly basis. They 
promised complete distribution if they could handle it here. They carried 
the letter in full, as you will see by the enclosed sheets, which comprise a 
summary story released at 4:01 P.M., followed by the complete letter at 
4:07, Pulitzer s comment at 7:35, and a day story for today sent at 1:45 
A.M. I think I d like to have you return these to me to stick in my first 
edition copy of Arrowsmith. 

I have had the office send you clippings from the New York press. 
The World, Times, and Tribune made a first page story of it; in fact, 

[1926] 215 

your picture illustrating the story was the only one on the first page of 
the Tribune this morning. 

The A.P. said the only thing that could interfere would be news of a 
revolution in England x or some such matter, which might swamp thek 
facilities. To insure against this, I mailed a copy of your statement in full, 
special delivery, to the important papers in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, 
and New York. 

I am glad you are going up to Minnesota for three months work. 
I think it will be better for the book if the first draft gets done in this 

It has been a beautiful job, Red. I m proud to have had something to 
do with it. 

Ever yours, 

Kansas City, May 7 
Dear Alf: 

I have had so many corking letters from you in the last few days that 
to answer them in detail would take a month and so I shall reserve all of 
that energy for my loving little volume about the preachers and merely 
say that I am extremely grateful to you for the hundred things that you 
have done for me in this Pulitzer business and damn glad that you like the 
letter to the Pulitzer prize committee in its final form. I am sending some 
of the telegrams which I have received to Gracie and she will sooner or 
later show them to you. I cannot imagine a more thorough job than you 
are doing in sending out the complete copy of the letter to publications 
and authors. I am carefully avoiding making any comments on the com 
ments which are wired from New York here and I more or less have the 
newspaper men working with me on this to keep fool wisecracks out of 
the press. 


May 10 

Dear Red: 

I don t suppose there will be any more significant comment on the 
refusal until the weeklies and monthlies come along. I won t send on any 
more clippings unless something significant appears. In the first place, 
you ve done a good job and might as well throw it over your shoulder; 

1 The general strike in England had aroused apprehensions. 


in the second place, with Don in England and Gus at the St. Louis Con 
vention, I m very busy. Incidentally, business is good. It looks as if our 
sales would run over a million dollars this year. 

Ever yours, 

Kansas City, May 1 1 
Dear Alf: 

I am returning the Associated Press story herewith, and sending you 
a hell of a lot of stray letters which have come in from odds and ends of 
people. All these letters have been answered. When you are through with 
them, I wish you would send them up to Gracie and tell her to chuck 
them into the basket when she has looked them over. Tell her that if she 
sends them back to me I will make a special trip to New York to fight her. 

I think you handled the whole business magnificently, and apparently 
there has been no confusion except in the delayed receipt of my letter by 
the Prize Committee. There came pretty near being a bad break here in 
the Star s getting the story too early, but a reporter risked his job by hold 
ing the story out on them for several hours so that they would not spring 
it too early. I must remember this incident whenever I get sore at the 
reporters for doing too much blabbing. 

As I shall be leaving here next Monday, you will get this letter just 
about in time to make a change in my address. Until I wire you my sum 
mer address in northern Minnesota, please send my mail care of Dr. E. J. 
Lewis, Sauk Centre, Minn. 

I am not going to send you these two letters x (of which copies are 
enclosed) but I think you will be glad to see the copies and know that 
my brothers in the church are sticking by their bishop when he is under 
fire by the sinful of the world. 

Sincerely yours, 
Sinclair Lewis 

P.S. The enclosed picture may amuse you. I don t know whether or not 
I have told you anything about my Sunday School class. I have had from 
fifteen to twenty preachers coming to lunch with me every Wednesday, 
and I have had rather remarkable luck in asking them impertinent ques 
tions about why they are ministers. This is a photograph of one of the 
smaller meetings of the class taken out on the roof of the Ambassador, 
and in the picture No. i is Dr. Hanson, Methodist preacher and head of 
the Methodist Book Concern here in Kansas City. No. 2 is Bill Stidger of 

1 Congratulatory letters from Henry Mencken and George Jean Nathan. 

[1926] 217 

whom you have already heard a great deal 3 and 4 are Shively and Ruth 
erford, both Christian (Campbellite) preachers. No. 5 is Birkhead, the 
Unitarian, who is working with me on the book and who will spend all 
summer with me in the north, accompanied by his wife and boy (as Mrs. 
Birkhead is taking this dictation I cannot tell you what a low hound this 
preacher is, so I will have to confide that to you later). If you do take 
my dare and motor through Minnesota and westward this summer, as I 
hope to God you will, you will meet the Birkheads and find what a pious, 
pure, noble unblasphemous soul the Reverend father is. (Let me again 
remind you that as I am dictating this to Mrs. B. I don t mean any of these 
things, but will explain them in private later.) 

No. 6 is Roberts, who is a completely modernist preacher of the John 
Haynes Holmes type. No. 7 is J. C. Maupin-you may remember reading 
in the paper about his successfully running for mayor as a modernist in 
Clarence, Mo. He is an ex-Baptist preacher who saved his soul by chuck 
ing the whole damn thing. 8 and 9 are a couple of laymen who were in as 
guests. 10 is Rabbi Mayer, the most important Jewish preacher in town. 
1 1 is Burris Jenkins, who is, perhaps, the best known preacher in town, or 
indeed in all this section of the world. He is a Campbellite and it was in 
his pulpit that I spoke up to papa God. 1 3 is Clarence Reidenbach, a Con- 
gregationalist preacher, who is the president of the Ministerial Alliance 
here. 14 is the Rev. Earl Blackman, Burris Jenkins assistant, former na 
tional chaplain of the American Legion, and one of the nicest fellows I 
ever met in my life. He is going to drive to northern Minnesota with me 
just for the trip. 

No. 1 5 is Sam Harkness, Presbyterian preacher. He is coming to New 
York, by the way, in a few days, and I have given him a joint letter of 
introduction to you, Hal and Monty. He is a devil of a nice fellow per 
sonally I think you will like him very much indeed, and he will be able 
to tell you at first hand all about the Sunday School class, about my con 
tact with the preachers in Kansas City, and about my prospects for doing 
a really good book on the ministry. As to No. 12, that is the Right 
Reverend Bishop Doctor Lewis, the teacher of the class. 

(Some P.S. says Mrs. Birkhead.) 

May 17 
Dear Red: 

Thanks for your note and the further letters. The picture of your 
Sunday school class is fine. 

It doesn t appear possible for us to get out to the coast this summer. 
Ellen and I may get to Chicago on a semi-business trip and might run out 


to sec you from there. But even that is doubtful. Hastings is going to a 
summer school in Maine to polish off some college entrance points, and 
I am looking forward to hanging around here except for short holidays, 

Ever yours, 

There was only one more brief letter from Lewis from Kansas City 
written on the eve of his departure and concerned with minor matters. 
No further word was received -from him until his letter of May 2$th. 

Star Route #2, 
Pequot, Minn. 
May 29 
Dear Alf: 

There s my address for the summer. It s not a luxurious cottage, but 
comfortable, and its charm is its location. It s amid a hundred acres of my 
own (temporarily) land, with a mile of shore front, fine sandy beach of 
Lake Pelican, so that Fll be absolutely secluded for work. Yet the roads 
are fine, and only five miles away is the best summer hotel in Minnesota, 
so that I can have a dance or a good dinner when I get sick of solitude. 
MIT fine swimming, fishing, tramping through largely unspoiled woods. 

I m writing from Sauk Centre, but I ll leave here about next Wednes 
day, and be on the job about Thursday, really hard at work, for the plan 
is all done and I m ready to start the book itself. 

Fine hike from Chicago here and north and back again, and I m keen 
as mustard. 


June i 
Dear Red: 

It s good to have your address for the summer. We are publishing a 
novel entitled Mantrap the day after tomorrow. The advance orders will 
be between twenty-five and thirty thousand. The orders are best where 
the buyers have read the book. Even your old friendly enemy, Doc 
Wells x of the Powers Mercantile Company, Minneapolis, writes me an 
enthusiastic letter about it. You must know there is nothing that is more 
fun around this office than to publish a novel by S.L. 

Ever yours, 

1 Leonard S. Wells, buyer for the book department, Powers Mercantile Company. 

[1926] 219 

Pequot, Minn. 
June 9 

I have changed the name Elmer Bloor to MYRON MELLISH. Among 
the other objections to Bloor was one you more or less hinted at it is so 
ugly, so scornful, that it prejudices the reader too early. I tried out Elmer 
Mellish, but the El-muh-mel assonance is bad. Myron has just the same 
color as Elmer, and Fm fairly well satisfied with the name now. I can see it 
in church notices, "The Rev. Dr. Myron Mellish will preach " 

Among other virtues of Mellish is: so far as I know, no one has that 
actual name its made up from Melhuish. Now as Mellish is so much less 
objectionable, so much less indicative than Bloor, you may have less ob 
jection to the title The Rev. Dr. Mellish. But I d be perfectly content 
with any of these three: THE REV. DR. MELLISH REVEREND MELLISH 
THE REVEREND DOCTOR. As I told you, my only point for holding out for 
the name in the title in this sulky way is that having the name of the man 
in the title makes people remember it so much better it identifies the man 
and the book. For the present I m going to call the book The Reverend 
Doctor, but will you please brood on all three from time to time. 

All settled, and the book actually started. And tell Monty my invita 
tion is opener than ever. 


Doesn t this sound like M. St.-Babbitt days? The fussing that gets some 

June 12 
Dear Red: 

The way Mantrap is getting along is fairly summed up in the two 
clippings enclosed. Broun, as you can see, likes it; the Brooklyn Eagle 
doesn t like it and reports it is the best selling novel in Brooklyn. 

Myron Mellish is better than Elmer Bloor. Of the tides you give, 
both Monty and I like The Reverend Doctor best at first blush. But 
Monty is the only one I have had time to show the letter to yet. Myron 
Mellish might not be a bad tide. 

It s fine to think of you at work by a nice lake. 

Ever yours, 


Pequot, Minn. 
June 12 
Dear Dr. Harcourt: 

No, Myron Mellish is not right. Besides, proves there was or is a 
well-known Episcopalian preacher, Howard Mellish. The name now is 
and I hope will continue to be-ELMER GANTRY. Say it aloud. See if you 
don t like the sharp sound of the Gantry. 


June 15 
Dear Red: 

Mellish was and Mellish is a rather "ishy" name. Gantry has a better 

Ever yours, 

June 24 
Dear Red: 

The news about Mantrap is so-so a steady sale but no walk-away. 
Publication date was the third of June, and we have actually shipped out 
a little over 30,000 copies. This is good but not wonderful. 

I hope the place and the book and everything go well with you. 

Ever yours, 

Only brief business notes were received from Lews in this period when 
he was starting to write Elmer Gantry. While he was in Pequot, Minne 
sota, Mrs. Lewis sailed on the Mauretania June $th for Paris. 

Pequot, Minn. 
July 22 
Dear Alf: 

Everything goes on well and steadily, and the Reverend Dr. Gantry 
progresses in holiness. Gracie seems to be having a quiet but very happy 
time in Austria after a good stay in Switzerland. 

I don t know what my plans will be after I leave here, but I am 
pretty sure that the novel will take me five or six more months, and I am 

[1926] 221 

hesitating about going abroad before finishing it. I may possibly get a 
house in Washington for part or all of the winter. 


Pequot, Minn. 

August i 
Dear Don: 

^ Thank you very much for letting me see the interesting English 
reviews of Mantrap, which I am returning. You have noticed the Atlantic 
Monthly review, haven t you? One of the best. Do you start advertising 
the book again soon? I ve seen no advertising of it of late. I don t, of 
course, expect anything extravagant if the thing won t go over, but hasn t 
it a chance as a fall book? 

I imagine the preacher book will have a chance to rival Main St and 
Babbitt. It s going on steadily, and looks good to me. I d hoped to have it 
done by October first, but if 11 be nearer January ist; also I d hoped to go 
abroad this fall but just now I don t want to leave the country till I have 
it all done and the galleys read. So when I leave here, some time in Sep 
tember, I ll probably go to Washington for part or all of the winter; and 
I m waiting to hear from Gracie whether she d rather stay abroad, and 
have me join her as soon as the work is done, or come back in September 
and join me in Washington. 
Affectionate regards to all. 


August 7 
Dear Red: 

I am just back at the office from a fortnight wandering around New 
England with Ellen in the car. We had a fine holiday. Don has shown me 
your letter of August first and the English reviews of Mantrap. They are 
first-rate, aren t they? Hal has just started on vacation, and I can t con 
veniently lay my hands on proofs of recent advertisements. I know he 
has been using an ad made up of these British reviews pretty generally. 

What you say about the preacher book sounds fine. I too believe it 
will have a real chance of rivalling Main Street and Babbitt, and that it 
will take you to more nearly January first than October first to finish it 
is probably a sign in that direction. I should think Washington would be 


a good place to finish it. I hope you have been well and that the work 
hasn t taken too much out of you. Still, I guess that you live more on and 
for writing a good novel than anything else. It s not such a bad reason for 
existence or work, either. I am getting endlessly curious to see part of it 
and hear about the story. When you switch to Washington, I can prob 
ably have a chance either here or there. 

Ever yours, 

In the weeks following his letter of August first, there was no word -from 
Lewis while he continued to work on Elmer Gantry. The office wrote 
him news of the sale of Mantrap. 

August Twenty-sixth 
Dear Red: 

We are having mysterious letters and cables about a three-act play of 
yours called City Hall. Have you been concealing something in the folds 
of your robe? These rumors have all come from Germany and we have 
seen none of the original reports in German papers. Be sure to return 
these enclosures. 

We had a cable "Hold mail" from Grace last week. Does this mean 
that she s coming back and that you have planned to settle down in Wash 
ington to finish the novel? How is it and how are you? 


Pequot, Minn. 
August no it ain t 

September 3 
Dear Alf: 

The enclosures refer to the play which Phil Goodman and I tried to 
write in Munich and Paris, and which was a fluke-never got beyond the 
first act. No such play is in existence nor likely to be, and you might tell 
Wolff if he hears of anybody trying to publish a play purporting to be 
mine, to stop it by injunction and let us know. 

Yes, Gracie is sailing on the Arabic, due in NY the mh, 13*, or 
i4th, and I expect to meet her. I ll leave here tomorrow, spend a day in 
Minneapolis, a couple in Chicago, and be in NY some time the end of 
next week. See you then! I feel fine and ready for a good winter s work. 
The first draft of the ms is something more than half done and tastes good. 


Yes, we expect to have a place in Washington for the winter, with maybe 
a Bermuda or Cuba trip when the book and proofs are done. 


Lewis arrived in New York September w and remained the rest of the 
month. In October he went to Washington where he and Mrs. Lewis had 
rented a house at 3028 Que Street, N.W. 

T\ T> j October 7 

Dear Red: 

We are beginning to fuss with the jacket and to start a whisper about 
Elmer Gantry, so it s time to ask you for help in writing a description of 
the new novel. Will you try your hand at the two or three hundred words 
you would like to have the booksellers and the critics read about it? 

I hope Washington is working out well and that you are feeling- fine 
and working like hell. 

Ever yours, 

3028 Que Street, N.W. 
Washington, D.C. 

October 8 
Dear Alf : 

I m enclosing, as you requested, my biennial burst of hurt modesty 
about an opus of the celebrated S.L. Yes, Washington is working out 
beautifully; the house is charming, and I m hard ,at work, with an office 
up on the ninth floor of the Hotel Lafayette. Our best! 


Brief letters continued to be exchanged about ne<w photographs of Lewis, 
a deposit to his account, etc. 

October Twenty-first 
Dear Red: J 

And how is Washington agreeing with you? I understand that you 
and Grace have gotten a house and that you are installed near the top of a 
hotel I can imagine the devil peering in your window and rubbing his 
wings together in the most self-satisfactory way. You are, my dear fellow, 
with this book of yours, his most important advocate in America. I do 


not think that it is possible to exaggerate the love which his Sulphurous 
Majesty holds for you. If we can sell a few hundred thousand copies of 
Elmer (which is the most delightfully innocent name in the world) we 
can probably together increase his kingdom and later on the population 
of the nether world by vast numbers of the faithful. 

All of the above, including my solicitude for your health, is a prelude 
to the jacket of your book. I saw this design, with two strong bars, black 
and red (which are, incidentally, the devil s colors) on a foreign poster. 
Stand off a quarter of a mile and look at it, and I think you ll see why it 
is good. It really makes a powerful jacket. Alf likes it and so do I. If you 
agree, we ll go ahead with it. 

I was sorry not to be able to see you again before you left, but I 
couldn t help it. There seem to be so many people on my neck these days 
that it is difficult to be free for more than a few odd minutes. But any 
how, sometime this fall I want to get down to see you over some week 
end, if you re agreeable. As I have explained to you before, your ways as 
the most important novelist in the U.S.A., etc., etc. are not my ways. But 
that isn t any reason why a friendship that has lasted ten years or more 
should peter out. 


Washington, Oct. 22 
Dear Hal: 

I think the Elmer Gantry jacket design s fine, corking. Yes, I m more 
than comfortably settled here; and YES, we d both be genuinely delighted 
if you could come down for some weekendwhenever you canwe have 
lots of room and plenty servants. I have a secluded and quiet room, with 
splendid light and air and lots of space, and I m simply working like the 
devil, I ll have the book done (be sure to tell Alf this) by the first of 
January all right. 


Washington, Oct. 28 
Dear Alf: 

Seems to me the jacket of Elmer ought to carry prominently-and the 
first ads ought to carrysomething to this effect: "No word of this novel 
has ever been published before serially or otherwise." And, for the first 
ads, how about something on this order: 

[1926] 225 

Somehow, the whole country has learned that Sinclair Lewis, after a year spent 
entirely with ministers of every sort, has been writing a novel about preachers. 
This is itl Elmer Gantry. 

^ Corking weather for work, just cool enough, and a perfect place for 
it-neither the country and lake, tempting one out to play, as in Minne 
sota, nor the noise and phone calls of NY. 



And another ad: 

Sinclair Lewis s long-promised novel about preachers-this is it-etc. 
(WITH the hope that not too many bar-flies remaining from the old days 
won t get an improper memory from the once magic words "this is it.") 

_ October 29 

Dear Red: y 

Your suggestions about advertising are dead right, especially as to the 
wisdom of emphasizing that the book has not been serialized and that this 
is the preacher novel which has been whispered about. I am told that 
Cadman x "whispered" about it over the radio last Sunday. 

Ever yours, 

Washington, November i 
Dear Alf: 

I am enclosing a letter from Bob Sherwood 2 which made me madder 
than hell. I suppose that it is in many ways permissible to be a bookseller, 
to be 70 and to be a hearty good fellow, and I appreciate all these things 
about Mr. Sherwood. I also understand that this book is his one ewe lamb 
and that he is trying in this letter, with very poor success, to be humorous 
and that he probably does not know that he is being thoroughly insulting. 
But I ll be damned if his position as a bookseller can force me into giving 
a public endorsement of a book which seems to me thoroughly third rate. 
So far as I can remember, I have never met the man except once, at a 
booksellers dinner and that for not more than 15 minutes. I am enclosing 
a suggested reply to him. 

Mr. Sherwood called me up at the Shelton, said that he was sending 
up a copy of the book, and would I read it as soon as possible. I said that 

1 S. Parkes Cadman, president of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in 

2 Owner of Sherwood s, bookstore in Beekman Street, New York. 


I would. Then came this letter, which makes me just a little bit sorer than 
anything that has happened to me for at least two or three hours. There is 
only one line I like: that is the line in which he says that I am competent 
to tell people to go to hell! 

The next bleating lamb is this bird from a town which I should think 
was probably Frauenfehl in Switzerland who wants some biographical 
material about me. Will you please be so good as to write him, explaining 
that I send him my almost overpowering love and shoot him the booklet 
by Hal? 

God, it must be interesting to be a publisher and to be in touch with 
the sensitive and undemanding souls of these authors. 


November 5 

Dear Red: 

Alf has been in Chicago this week, and so your letter of November 
first with its enclosures has been in my care. I have mailed the letter to 
Sherwood today. Gus agreed with me at first in thinking it would be best 
to make no reply to the letter at all. But this morning Gus had a letter 
from Sherwood telling him a lot about the progress of his book and sug 
gesting that maybe he d see you in Washington. Of course you would be 
justified in ignoring his letter except it appears that might not be the end 
of it and you might as well tell him now as later. 

Ever yours, 

November 8 

Dear Red: 

I spent last week in Chicago-most of the time at our sprightly new 
textbook office out there, which has been going for over a year but which 
neither Don nor I had seen. So I have just read your letter of November 
first. You re dead right to write to Bob Sherwood as you did. Of course 
you don t want to boost a bum book. We had the manuscript here, and 
he pestered us terribly to publish it for him and got Gus pretty much 
involved in it. But finally I read the manuscript and got up on my hind 
legs and said that the man couldn t write and that I d be Goddamned if 
we would publish his book. 

Ever yours, 

[1926] 227 

November 18 
Dear Red: 

I have refrained from telling any one that the duplicate manuscript 
of the part of Elmer Gantry which I read is in our safe, as I thought it 
better to have the complete book burst on every one here in its full glory. 
But I find that Hal has unearthed this manuscript, has read it and is com 
pletely carried away by it. I think he is planning to run down to see you 
some time within the next two weeks or so if that falls in with your plans. 

Ever yours, 

Washington, November 22 
Dear Alf: 

In the next few days I am possibly sending to you Horace Wylie, 
and I want you to do absolutely everything you can for him. He is one 
of the most pathetic cases I know of in the world. He was once upon a 
time a reasonably rich man, of an old and distinguished family, sitting 
about clubs in Washington and playing bridge. Then he fell for our 
friend, Elinor Wylie-Benet. They eloped, and in order to get a divorce 
from his wife he had to give up every single penny he had in the world 
to her. Well of course, Elinor then divorced him and married Bill. Since 
then he has been trying to make a living by holding down a government 
job. This he has lost, and I am told that he is going up to New York to 
try to get a job as a holiday-time book clerk in one of the department 

This is not the familiar case of the ex-gentleman who is a drunk and 
a rotter; it is the case of a man who has rather too late in life tried to be 
efficient. (He s probably 47.) And he has really learned to be efficient; 
as a book clerk he would be the man for whom every bookseller must be 
looking. He knows books reverently; he speaks three or four languages; 
he would be equally courteous to the duchess and the ditch-digger; and 
the poor man at the present moment has no great financial ambitions. 

You know every bookseller in New York and Chicago, and please 
have a very serious talk with Horace, if his pride permits him to come in 
and talk to you, and see that he gets a job with a possibility of per 
manency. It would seem to me that as that genius wife of his is in New 
York, it would be better if he went to Chicago. I think that Marcella 
would throw a cat-fit of joy to have him, and that Kroch would really 
appreciate him. Anyway, treat him as you would treat me, except for 
publishing his books (thank God he hasn t any, so you re safe!). 

Bob Sherwood showed up here in Washington. I had him up for a 


drink and he was awfully nice. I think he understands now that I am not 
going to push his book. He would be a darling if he only did not think 
that he had a sense of humor. 


Early in December Lewis came to the Grosvenor Hotel in New York. 

The Grosvenor, 
New York, 
December 17 
Dear Alf, Don and Hal: 

This is just* a memorandum in case I forget to speak to you about it 
later: I wish you would be particularly careful as to who goes over my 
manuscript before it goes to the printers. For example I do not capitalize 
he and who and so on referring to the Deity and the ordinary manuscript 
editor would carefully change this. I am going down to Washington a 
week from today and before I go I shall have the complete manuscript in 
to you ready to start setting. I hope you will be able to make the date of 
publication before April ist; possibly even March ist, because I am abso 
lutely dead certain that there will be rivals coming along some time this 
spring, so great is the present interest in religion as for one of many 
examples the "Religious Census" recently running in the New York 


Lewis left the manuscript of Elmer Gantry with Har court and returned 
to Washington Christmas Eve. 

December 27 
Dear Red: 

Gantry is splendid! Ellen and I had Monty out for Christmas, so he 
read it over the holiday as well as Don and I. We foregathered yesterday 
afternoon and gloated over it and finally thought to send you a telegram. 
Don thinks it s the best book of the lot. For me it is the best next to Main 
Street, and for Monty it is next to Babbitt. Though Monty and I both 
admit it has excellences not quite possessed by Main Street and Rabbitt, 
I suppose those books were our respective first loves. You should have 
seen Monty laughing his head off and wiping his glasses a half dozen times 
in the course of reading it. What a sound job it all is! 

[1926] 229 

I have a few general queries. I would be inclined to let the death of 
Sharon go without having Elmer finding her charred body holding a piece 
of the cross. 

I think Elmer would have been more outraged on the occasion of his 
visit to Shallard by what the Ku Kluxers had done to Shallard, though he 
would have done nothing about it afterward or publicly. 

I would tone down the vulgarities of Elmer on the steamship and in 
London and Paris. It is a little too blatant, and he must have picked up a 
veneer of manners from some of his parishioners by that time. It is just a 
little too thick. Cutting a little will do it. 

We all agree you should consider the badger game episode more care 
fully and either change it or substitute something for it. A girl clever 
enough to get away with being his secretary and unscrupulous enough to 
badger him would not devote so much time to so unpromising a prospect 
financially. The labor, time, rent of apartment, etc. involved would come 
to more than Elmer s resources could stand. So clever a swindler would 
have gone after a man with a good deal more money and worked faster. 
While Elmer was about due to be badly caught in some of his philander 
ing, he might also by this time be too clever and worldly wise to write 
letters and be caught so completely off his guard. There are a lot of dif 
ficulties in the situation as you have done it which the above observations 
will suggest to you. You either have to make the secretary a semi-inno 
cent tool in the matter or provide more carefully for a number of con 
tingencies. It occurs to us that you have Lulu ready at hand to provide 
the situation. She could do something foolish or hysterical. They might 
be caught in some piece of carelessness by the reporter who is on to him, 
and then have him make final use of Lulu and Floyd or Lulu alone in a 
made-up affidavit and statement which will clear his skirts. 

I think the thing as it is would just get by, but it s too bad to have a 
soft spot at the end of the book, and if you mull over this between now 
and when you get the proofs, I am sure you can fix it to the Queen s taste. 

Although you may suspect it, you don t know what a grand novel 

you have written. 

Ever yours, 

December 27 
Dear Red: 

Last night I finished reading Elmer Gantry, and this morning the 
manuscript is going to the printer. It seems to me amazingly good, even 


for you, I am glad I waited to read it when it was final and complete. 
I had no preconceptions about it except such as I got from talking with 
you and Alf and Melville. It seems so much better than I had expected 
from those conversations. It is sound and true and complete; it s funny 
just often enough; the characters are perfect. I was astonished to find how 
familiar the scenes and the lingo were to me from boyhood experience 
which I had forgotten. I should expect there are at least a million people 
who will get a similar or a greater pleasure from this rediscovery. 

I marked a few things in the manuscript which seemed obvious mis 
takes in typewriting. I queried a few others which were not so obvious. 
It s amazing how complete you ve got the various sides and shades of 
religious controversy through your characters and kept them all interest 
ing. It s a great book, and I expect it will create some excitement among 
the shepherds and their flocks and even in the councils of the ungodly. 

Ever yours, 

At the end of the month Lewis was back at the Grosvenor in New York. 

The Grosvenor 
New York 
December 31 
Dear Alf: 

I have kept forgetting to tell you that Secretary of Labor Davis had 
a brainstorm when I was in Washington, to the eif ect that he might write 
an answer to Elmer Gantry he had the vaguest of ideas as to what 
Elmer s like, but I had told him that I was writing a book lambasting 
religion and he is, as you probably know, very well-known among the 
fundamentalist Christians. Why don t you write to him and see if he is 
authentically interested, and if he is send him an advance copy-but not 
too soon before the book comes out so that he will spill too many beans. 
I think that the spectacle of a Cabinet Member soaring into the book will 
be rather pretty publicity. Incidentally he will probably write a lousy 
book. Incidentally he is rather a nice fellow, for a Christian. 

I d be rather glad if you gave special attention to the volume of 
poems by Pierre Loving which you now have in the house. He is an 
extremely intelligent fellow and I think it is possible that something might 
come out of his work. 


[ 1927] 231 


3028 Que Street, Northwest 
Washington, January 4th. 
Dear Alfred: 

Please have the $2000 sent to me as quickly as possible, for it is the 
first of the month and I am strapped. Also I am closing this house up on 
January 1 5th. I am thro, quite thro, as far as Hal is concerned. This whole 
Washington venture was my last gesture, and it has failed. Physically as 
well as mentally I have reached the limit of my endurance. My last gift 
to him is complete silence until the book is out and the first heated dis 
cussion dies down. For him to divorce God and wife simultaneously 
would be bad publicity. I am really ill at the present moment, and I will 
go to some sort of a sanitarium to normalize myself. 

Elmer Gantry is superb. I hate every one in it but "devastating" is the 
only word which will describe the cumulative force of the last third of 
the book. It must succeed tremendously on I don t care what score. 

My good wishes to you all and wish me in return strength and peace 
in the coming year. 


January 5 
Dear Grace: 

I have your letter of the fourth, and it s a good letter. Hal was all in 
last week, and we finally prevailed on him to go up to Bill Brown s Train 
ing Camp, Garrison-on-the-Hudson. I got him packed up and drove him 
up there New Year s Eve. I haven t heard from him since, but he has 
returned some thirty galleys of Elmer Gantry, which he took up there 
with him, carefully and sharply corrected. I do hope he gets into better 
shape there and builds up some reserves to go on with. 

When you say Gantry is superb and "devastating," you ve said it 
exactly. We are crowding the job of publication every way we can, but 
we can t publish before MarchI should guess the nth. The first edition 
will be 100,000, and to get those made and shipped around the country so 
that the book will be in stock in San Francisco on publication day is going 
to use every moment between now and the middle of March. I think the 
rest cure at Bill Brown s is insurance in that direction. 

I do really hope you can achieve serenity in the course of time. Of 
course I hope Hal can also, but those hopes are much more faint. 

Ever yours, 


Lewis returned to New York about the eighth, and during this period of 
visits and telephone calls, there were only a "few letters -from the office 
about business details. 

The Grosvenor, New York 
January 25 

I am laying up again in the Harbor Sanitarium for three days, but I 
really feel fine and on Friday I shall be buzzing about town, sailing at mid 
night on Wednesday next week. I have an awfully good fellowEarl 
Blackman of Kansas City who motored with me from Kansas City to 
Northern Minnesota to go along for the first four weeks, which is all he 
can get away. We plan to walk in southern England or in France if the 
weather is bad in England, which will both be lots of fun and get me into 
fine shape. 


Lewis and Blackman sailed for England on February second, but there is 
no record of the ship they went over on. 


Trouble in Kansas City 

and Boston 

February 9 
Dear Red: 

I hope you have had a good voyage and a good rest We thought of 
you on your birthday this week. I have had a long letter from Stidger. 
He doesn t like the book, just as you told him he wouldn t, but hopes for 
its success. Kansas City seems het up by talk about it, and the sale there 
will start with a rush; in fact, it begins to look as if it will start with a 
rush everywhere. 

I had a note from Mencken saying it is magnificent even better than 
Babbitt, which you know has been his favorite till now. We are taking 
the line that the book is a great novel in the best tradition of English 
fiction, so that the inevitable scrap about it will head up between the two 
groups of readers and go over the publishers and, perhaps to some extent, 
the author s head. You wrote it; we ll sell it; the public will scrap about it. 

I do hope everything is going well with you and Blackman and that 

you re having a fine time. 

Ever yours, 


c/o Guaranty Trust Co., 
i rue des Italiens, Paris, 
Feb. 24 

Dear Alf: 

A hundred thanks for the letter with all the news about sales, Bill 
Stidger s letter, etc. (When Earl Blackman returns, he ll tell you not only 


about the trip and my worthy self but also about an amusing lunch they 
all had with Bill just before Earl left Kansas City.) 

We had a beautiful crossing with only two rough days, and they not 
rough enough to bother us at all; ten beautiful days in England, both 
motoring and walking; now two days in Paris; and since Earl has to 
hustle backwe re off this evening for a regular hustling American Tour 
ist trip to the Italian lakes, Venice, Florence. Then I ll settle down here 
for God knows how long. 

I really feel very well. I am still tired; it ll take a couple of months 
more for me to get that fundamental tiredness out of my system; and I m 
living as quietly as possible. I had a beautiful rest on the steamer, and it 
was only in London, where I saw too many people, that I dashed about 
too much. And meantime the planning of Evening goes on tranquilly. 


Let me know how Ellen is (and give her my dearest love), and what you 
see and hear of Gracie. I shan t write you very much as part of my rest, 
I m going to keep my correspondence down as much as I can. 

March 4 
Dear Red: 

Jonathan sails tomorrow on the Baltic, and you may be seeing him 
and getting all the news that way. We are coming up to publication date 
with a rush. I have never seen anything to touch the advance interest in 
Gantry. We are refusing to let all sorts of people have copies in advance 
or preach on it in advance or write on it in advance. But I think every one 
who should have a copy has had one and feels correspondingly privileged. 

We have given the Associated Press material of all sorts about you 
and about the book so that they can write their own story. The material 
covers the usual biographical stuff, the Kansas City Bible Class, and that 
the paper used on the first edition would make a path forty inches wide 
from here to Chicago, and so forth, and so on. Of course we are doing 
the same thing with the other news services and giving them a copy of 
the book so that they can work up their own sensational stuff in their own 
way. We have been careful to include in each statement that there are no 
portraits of actual people in the book. 

We are printing up another carload of paper, which will make the 
actual printing before publication 138,000. The Book-of-the-Month Club 
will take between 35,000 and 40,000. I expect re-orders to come in 

I received this morning an advance proof of Mencken s review for 

[1927] 235 

the April Mercury. It is three pages long and perfectly splendid. Jonathan 
expects the book to make an enormous sensation, now that he has read it 
all. Rebecca West is going to review it for the Tribune. I suppose she has 
to as visiting critic, but it s a little too bad they couldn t find some Amer 
ican to do it. The Evening Post is running two reviews next week, one by 
Bill Woodward and one by John Roach Straton. 1 A week from now we ll 
have a lot of stuff to send you. 

I hope you re well and having some fun. What a job it was to write 
that book in the time in which you did it! 

Ever yours, 

Elmer Gantry was published on March loth. 

March 1 1 
Cable to 

Sales about hundred thousand. News stories everywhere. Kansas Star five 
columns. Reviews violent either way. Clergy hot. Reorders already. Letter 
and clippings mailed. Everything lovely. 


March 14 
Cable to 

Reorders Monday eighteen thousand. Controversy hot. Dont talk. Love. 


c/o Guaranty Trust Co., 
i, rue des Italiens, Paris which will 
remain my address till notice. 
Wednesday, March 23 

Dear Alf: 

To thank you and all the others in detail for the splendid and 

complete job of publishing, and for all the letters, cables, clippings since 

1 Pastor Calvary Baptist Church, New York City. 


would be quite impossible. I can only send you my loudest thanks. I don t 
believe I ve missed anything here. 

Tomorrow I m off for Italy. I shall wander for several weeks, with 
Ramon Guthrie, who s doing a translation for you and who is the most 
charming of people. I plan on a cottage and the Simple Outdoor Life for 
next summer. AND probably beginning the new novel. If there is to be a 
divorce, I m not going to do anything about it till next fall, to avoid 

I ve just come back from a very happy motoring trip in Touraine, 
the great chateau country, and I m doing nothing but loaf and see a little 
of Ramon, his wife, Allan Updegraff, who has become extremely nice, 
Ludwig and Mrs. Lewisohn. I m feeling well but still tired, which is one 
reason why I want to get out of Paris and into the country, 

It s been a great battle, the Elmer row, and I imagine it will go on. 
Gor, what a gratifying review Mencken s is! 

I m delighted that Ellen is about again. Give my love to her and to 
the boys in the firm. I m going to write very little as you can imagine, 
I ve had enough of writing for a while! but I shall think of you a lot. 

BestBEST ! 

March 31 
Dear Red: 

The flag, as you know from our reports to you, flies high. I suppose 
that my share of Elmer Gantry has been more fun than anything that has 
happened since I entered this distinguished office. Now and then I hear of 
you, too. Ramon Guthrie writes that he attended a celebration in Paris to 
blow off steam after Elmer had sold its first hundred thousand. And the 
other day Earl Blackman came in and I had a long talk with him. I confess 
that I was a good deal distressed by him. He has the most ardent faith in 
the proselyting powers of the book, and actually wept from sheer emo 
tionalism when he read Mencken s review. It seemed to me an extraordi 
nary spectacle: a Presbyterian pouring out tears of joy at Mencken s most 
violent attack on what he was supposed to believe in. He also expected to 
lose his church when he got out to Kansas City, although I have a good 
many doubts about that. The same day I met his "boss" (whose name I 
have temporarily forgotten) and liked him very much. I am sure that he 
will do his best for Earl. After Kansas City settles down to whatever state 
of grace is customary in that fair city, I expect that everything will blow 
over. He is really an extraordinarily fine man (that is, Blackman is) ; I 
liked his earnestness and his simplicity. And he certainly is a wiser man 

[1927] 237 

than when he left these shores. If after all he has to turn into an expert 
plumber, there are worse professions than that among which I would 
include preaching in a church that believes in the damnation of infants 
(or maybe that s the Baptist). 

Everybody asks about you and I take great joy in telling them tRat 
you never were in better health. I think it was extraordinarily lucky that 
you had the sense to leave the country when you did. You would have 
been hounded from one end of the United States to the other by tabloids 
and by all the freaks in Christendom. 

The publicity on Elmer Gantry is amazing, and it still keeps pouring 
in. We keep a daily bulletin of sales here, and it is very amusing to watch 
it catch on in one territory after the other. We are advertising it, of 
course, in every conceivable way from here to the Pacific Ocean. I am 
convinced that the vast majority of people are reading it because they at 
heart agree with your premise. Incidentally, the antics of the good breth 
ren out in Kansas City have been marvelous to behold. I don t know how 
much of this rubbish you are absorbing yourself, but I am saving for your 
delectation the most extraordinary nonsense that was ever put on paper. 
Nevertheless, one finds defenders of Elmer and yourself in the most sur 
prising places. Some little paper in the South or the West will burst into 
song in the most astonishing way. I presume that as a result of this book 
a large number of editorial writers and "would-be" critics have lost their 
jobs; but, as I have said before, there is nothing wrong with the plumbing 

I dined with Grace not long ago and took her around to Bill Bullitt s. 
She seemed fairly cheerful, although a bad cold had seized hold of the 
poor girl. Wells, as I understand, is in town with her now, and I am going 
to look her up again before long. 

I can t think of any more news from home, but when we sell the two 
hundred thousandth copy of Elmer, which isn t so far off, I think we 
should send you a diamond-studded wrist watch, provided you promise 
not to hand it over to any fair Viennese. Good luck to you. Maybe I ll be 
over later myself, I don t know. Irita Van Doren sails April 9th for a 
round of literary activities in England and France. Perhaps you will run 
across her. She is a little terrified at the prospect of meeting so many 
distinguished strangers, and would probably leap right down your throat 
if she saw you. 

Au revoir. Alf sends his love. He s been deep all day in negotiations 
for the motion picture rights. 



Hotel d ltalie, 
Venice, April 2 


More cables to thank you for. The book looks like a sure 200,000, 
perhaps more. I haven t seen the Bennett article yet. 

I had to hurry so when I was here with Blackman that I ve returned, 
with Ramon Guthrie, and it s a joy just to drift about in a leisurely way, 
not try to "see things" but just let them soak in. Spring is coming, with 
the Lombard plain, Milan to Verona, hot, green, shining with peach and 
almond blossoms, with the snowy Alps beyond. 

Fm going to do a couple of very short (1200 words each) articles 
here for the Evening Standard, London, to keep my hand in and to 
broaden my English audience. I may work them up into a 3000 word 
article for America. I may ask you to handle it for me, if Collier s find it 
unsuitable. I plan to write a few short stories, this next few months, for 
knitting; and wondering just what Elmer had done to my sanctified repu 
tation I cabled Grant Overton at Collier s yesterday, "Do you still want 
the short stories" and got back this morning "Eager to have first shot at 
any short stories you do." I may do two or three while wandering, and 
make expenses; then decidedly again not serialize next novel. 

From here I ll drift some more in Italy, then to Germany, but Paris 
will remain my address. 

Bill Stidger in his comments on my book must have been hit hard 
from the way he squeals! I shan t answer him; Birkhead will do that. 
Thank the Lord I can keep away from reporters here. The vast Venetian 
press (if there is any) is almost as much interested in my existence (if 
any) as in the fact that Sig. Teodoro Palmieri of Chiogga has a sow which 
has just given birth to piglets. Cheers! 


April 8 
Dear Red: 

On March 3oth we cabled you that the sales were 150,000. The book 
is slowing up a little, but it is still selling at an extraordinary rate 1000 or 
1500 a day. I enclose a memorandum of March advertising, which is the 
most advertising we ever did in one month for a book; in fact, I think it 
is the most ever done here. We have contracted for about $5000 or $6000 
more. I am sending you separately proofs of some of the recent ads. 

We are all so much pleased by your warm letter of March 23rd 
which came drifting in this week, especially in that you sounded as if you 

[1927] 239 

were better and happier than when we had last heard from you. I think 
the trip with Ramon Guthrie must have been fun. I hope it worked out 
well. The plan for a cottage in France in the summer is first-rate. Every 
thing is serene here, but youVe kept us as busy as a boy killing snakes. 

Ever yours, 

On April 1 2th Har court went to White Sulphur Springs for a holiday. 
Lewis wrote him a postcard -from Ragusa, Ddmatia, Yugoslavia, on Easter 
Day (April ijth) reading, "It s even lovelier than the Italian coast; the 
men still wear thick jackets and zouave pants; & I feel fine. DOBAR DAN - 

April 22 
Dear Red: 

I have just cabled you, in answer to yours from Yugoslavia, as fol 
lows: "Sale one hundred seventy-five thousand. Continuing nicely. Boston 
has suppressed/ 7 I envy you your present travels, and I hope you are 
enjoying them as much as I expect you are. 

In regard to the suppression of the book in Boston: There had been 
rumors that it might be suppressed, and on the izth District Attorney 
Foley notified the booksellers that any further sales would be followed by 
prosecution under the Massachusetts law. I enclose clippings wKich give 
the important details of what happened after that. You will see that it has 
turned into a general fuss about books in that city, and the booksellers, 
frightened by the possibility of arrest, have stopped selling a great many 
books which have not actually been banned. The Boston press has made 
a great deal of the matter, and so has the press throughout the country. 
Of course the intelligent opinion is everywhere that the suppression has 
made Boston ridiculous. 

There seemed to be two courses of action one, to issue a statement 
to the effect that this was Boston s business and that we would stop at 
tempting to send our travelers and to sell books there and devote our 
selves to selling them to the rest of the country; the other, of course, was 
to take some kind of legal action. We decided in favor of attempting 
something of the latter sort, but I have not at any time been in favor of 
going up there and getting arrested and having a sensational criminal trial 
with at least an even chance that an Irish jury in Boston might give a 
verdict of guilty. I understand the jails are not too good there and the law 
provides for a fine and imprisonment up to two years. On Thursday I 
went up to Boston with Melville and Gus. We interviewed various people, 
including booksellers, the editor of the Transcript, and the president of 


Little, Brown and Company, and thon consulted a representative of the 
Brandeis firm of lawyers and decided tentatively on the following course 
of action. 

The idea is to refuse to accept from a given dealer in Boston the 
return of unsold copies of the book, we suing them for the payment of 
these copies. In defense, they claim that the book has been declared illegal 
and that this is a justification for non-payment. We expect that such a suit 
will compel a judge to pass an opinion as to whether the book does or 
does not violate the law. If we lose we can carry it to a higher court; if 
we win the booksellers can resume selling the book. We hope to be repre 
sented by very distinguished counsel and at least get whatever credit is 
involved in trying to maintain your rights and our rights and the general 
right of freedom of the press. There is some indication that the action of 
the District Attorney, a nice young Irishman who took office last January, 
is backed by the opinion of the Catholic Church, although, of course, the 
book itself is not considered an attack on that church. Their paper, how 
ever, The Pilot in Boston, has printed an editorial against the book, and 
his action in regard to this book and even in regard to books in general is 
popular with a considerable section of the voters. I hope you approve of 
what we do, though whatever we do will be done before we have a 
chance to hear from you. You re lucky to be away because you would 
have been besieged by reporters and hecklers of all sorts if you had been 
here. We will report as often as there is anything definite. 

Alfred has been away last week and this week for a spring vacation 
but will be back at the office the first of next week. 

Ever yours, 


P.S. I have just heard since dictating the above that Hays, 1 who went 
up to Boston and on behalf of Liveright made a sale of The American 
Tragedy to a policeman, was found guilty in court there this morning 
and fined $100, Enlightenment doesn t seem to be in the ascendancy in 
Boston at present. 

Grand Hotel Imperial 
Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia 
10:30 PM. Apr. 25 
Dear Hal: 

Sliding into the shadow of the dark mountains the good (the ex 
traordinarily unambitious) ship has just come to rest in Valona, Albania. 
I ve just been prowling-below where on a hatch sleep Albanian tribesmen 
1 Arthur Garfield Hays, lawyer. 

[1927] 241 

whom we took on @ Durazzo this morning-one of them with dirk & old 
pistol, embroidered white wool trousers & shirt, black wool jacket sashed 

with red, pill-box cap with turbanesque veil on it & a face h half 

Mongol, half old Greek. Entziickend! Tomorrow Corfu; Athens in a 
week. I feel superb-really & I m planning the new novel, tho I shan t get 
to real work for many weeks yet. I don t believe I ll be back in America 
till fall, if then. 

I was so glad to have your letter of March 31, which I got 2 days 
ago. I hope you really have had fun out of Elmer. Your work on it has 
been magnificent. The violent Kansas City blokes have been asinine. I m 
grateful to them for proving the book. 

I wish to God I were going to see Irita, but I shan t probablybe 
near Paris or London for months. 

Do write me again & give me all the gossip. I m so far from it. 


May 6 
Dear Red: 

We ve all been too busy selling books around here to be much good 
as correspondents. Ellen and I have had a vacation in West Virginia and 
I think Don wrote to you at least once while I was away. I find two good 
letters from you and a postcard from Dalmatia. It all sounds splendid. 
I hope you can get back to France this summer and start the new novel, 
though there s no harm in a few short stories for Collier s to keep your 
hand in and the bank balance fat. 

There has been an endless lot of backing and filling and discussion 
about dramatic and motion picture rights (of Gantry). Stallings went to 
the coast and got absorbed in making two new motion pictures. Arthur 
Hopkins blew hot and cold and finally they both let go. The motion pic 
ture people have been afraid they couldn t get it past Will Hays and it 
became clear that the best thing to do was to sell the motion picture rights 
from the play if we could get the play arranged for and produced. I have 
today signed a contract in your behalf with Robert Milton as the producer 
(his last success was The Bride of the Lamb) and Bayard Veiller as dram 
atist (his most conspicuous success was Within the Law). One reason 
Ann Watkins * and I picked Milton is his great enthusiasm for the book. 
I think both he and Veiller would go to the stake for it. Milton seems to 

1 New York literary agent. 


have ample backing and he has a good theatre in a good location free for 
it in New York. You have better than the minimum terms in the Authors 
league agreement in practically every contingency. Melville has looked 
over and in fact drew most of the final contract incorporating the ideas 
Ann and I had so I think it s all in order. 

Ever yours, 

There was a. cable from Lewis -from Athens May yth, and nothing -further 
until his cable of May $oth from Paris. Meantime Harcourt cabled twice 
to Athens and wrote Lewis a letter re sales. 

Cable from Paris May 30 
New York 

Why dont Grosset start intensive campaign Trail Hawk which is really 
story Lindbergh. 1 Can hook up with fact we born forty miles apart 


June i 
Dear Red: 

I have your Paris cables. Grosset and Dunlap say they will get right 
after your suggestion about The Trail of the Hawk. 

Sales (of Gantry) last week bring the total to over 200,000. We 
decided on at least another modest burst of advertising on our own hook 
before we received your cable. Now we will go ahead with the full 
program. You must know, Red, that this continued cooperation on your 
part in the arithmetic of publishing is really appreciated by us. I know 
it s good business and really believe it increases your total income, but 
you re a rare bird of an author to recognize it and to work with us the 
way you do. 

All sorts of complications have come up in regard to the Boston suit 
and we have finally decided to drop it. I went up to Boston on the i8th of 
May and spoke at a mass meeting under the auspices of the Women s City 
Club. There were over 1000 people at the meeting. I also saw a good 
many people there in regard to the situation. There seems to be a definite 
and strong movement on foot to have the present law changed. As it 
stands now, the fate of a book can be settled on the basis of any words, 
or paragraphs, or even phrases which might "tend to corrupt the morals 

1 On May zist Charles A. Lindbergh landed in Paris after his trans- Atlantic flight 
in the Spirit of St. Louis. 

[1927] 243 

of the young." The Women s City Club, the state librarians, and a num 
ber of first-rate organizations are getting behind the movement to have 
the law changed. I think in the present situation a real fight on the part of 
a New York publisher would be apt to embarrass them, especially as our 
Boston attorneys (Brandeis s old firm) are extremely doubtful if we could 
win the case under the present statute. 

It will be nice to think of you settled for the summer. I hope you will 
feel like starting the new novel and that you are well and happy. 

Ever yours, 

Several business letters were written -from the office to Lews in the -fol 
lowing weeks, and there is evidence that a letter was received -from him 
dated Jime i6th : which was apparently of some length, but which un 
fortunately has been lost. 

June 27 
Dear Red: 

Thanks for all you say about Ramon Guthrie. This business is really 
getting to be more and more like a club in the way new authors come in 
almost only on the recommendation of old authors. I had a pleasant talk 
with Guthrie at the time we arranged with him to do the translation of 
Bernard Fay s historical book. 1 I hope you can make it clear to him that 
we do want him to show us his work just as soon as he is completely free 
to do so. 

Elmer is slowing up a little. The renewed advertising is helping it 
some in day-to-day sales. Publicity of all sorts keeps up. How your books 
do get into the lingo of the country! 

Your summer plans sound fine. Write whenever you feel like it. 

Ever yours, 

Cable from Paris, June 29 

Leaving for another walking trip. Please inform Grace. Harry Savage of 
Stokes has idea republish Hike and Aeroplane. Tell him this impossible 
for credit both themselves and me. 


1 The Revolutionary Spirit in France and America, HB&Co., 1927. 


Munich, July 4 

Dear Alf : 

I ve had about enough Europe-trotting now, & in three or four weeks 
Til be heading for America arriving in four or five. I ll bring with me the 
ms of Ramon Guthrie s novel It s contemporary, alive, eager-a corker, 
I think, with sales possibilities. If you re away on vacation when I arrive, 
I hope you ll be reachable, so I can dash up & see you. Don t let anyone 
outside the office know I m coming caution Don, Hal, Gus, Monty et al. 
about this. I want to avoid undesirable interviews. I ll keep my name off 
the steamer list. 

I go from here to Dresden & Berlin, return to Paris, & sail on I don t 
yet know which boat. In America I ll probably go for a while to Fred 
Howe s place @ Nantucket & work there. Perhaps you & I can have a 
few days motoring. It ll be good to see you! 


Munich, July 6 
Dear Alf: 

It occurs to me, just as I am leaving tonight for Berlin, that if Ramon 
Guthrie takes a little less or more time in finishing his ms and that if I am 
amused in Berlin and stay longer than I expect, it may be better for him 
to send his ms directly to you. I wish that you would give it the most 
immediate and careful personal attention; and that if you are to be away, 
you d leave word with Don or Hal to get right after it. This is because I 
think most highly of the novel (my own opinion is shown by the fact that 
I have gone over it twice, and with great pleasure), and of Guthrie as a 
Harcourt author. If you want the novel as much as I hope you will, I 
want you to make an offer immediately, by cable, to Guthrie. He would 
want an advance simply to keep going till the next novel is done but he 
would be satisfied with a thousand dollars. 

Though this is not an aviation or war story, but fundamentally the 
story of a man s love for a woman conflicting with his friendship for an 
other man, yet the man is an aviator (handled quite differently from any 
aviator of whom I ve ever read), and it would be a good thing, if possible, 
to seize the present aviation interest. 

So will you please give it more careful attention than anything I ve 
ever sent your way; and cable Guthrie an acceptance or rejection; and 
above all, do take my word that not just as regards this one novel but as 
regards all his potential future, Guthrie is the sort of person you are 
seeking as a permanent Harcourt author. 

[1927] 245 

God it s hot. Maybe it is in New York, too. But me-l have beside me 
a long, golden, cool glass of Munich beer! 


July 17 
Dear Red: 

I just have your note of the Fourth of July saying that you will be 
back in America the end of August, It will be good to see you and to find 
out just how you are. I think you will enjoy Fred Howe s place and be 
able to get to work there. I am rather aiming to be away the end of 
August, but I doubt if I will be very far away and maybe you could come 
and join Ellen and me where we are. Well be very careful not to let out 
that you are returning home. 

Ever yours, 



Marriage and Divorce 


Cable from Berlin Jul 24 

New York 

Staying Europe several months more. Please inform Grace. 


White Grass Ranch 
Jackson s Hole, Wyoming 
July zcth 
Dear Alfred: 

Your telegram of the 2 3rd has just been brought in by a cowboy, so 
gloriously inaccessible is this place, tho a great deal of the glory is being 
dimmed for me. I had planned my summer pretty much up to October ist 
when last week I got a letter from Hal in Munich dated July 2nd saying 
he would be back in New York in six weeks and would I go to Nantucket 
with him for the rest of the summer. My God! seems to be the only ade 
quate comment on this. And now today your wire comes saying he is 
remaining in Europe for several more months. What with the altitude of 
6000 feet and my low blood pressure, and the fact that I don t sleep at 
nights, I think I had better return East sooner than I had planned or I ll 
be inviting you to a rather tasty funeral-Even so I think you and Has 
tings would adore this country, but it s no place to be zm-certainly un 
happy in. Keep me posted by wire of any new developments. God bless 
you and God help me! 


Also my watch is stopped, my typewriter is busted, and I catch field mice 
every night in my room. 


Berlin, July 26 
Dear Alf: 

As I cabled you a couple of days ago, I m not, after all, coming home 
this summer. I like Berlin, & I m getting the stuff here for Blind Giant. 
In August, I m going to have some more walkingstarting in England but 
possibly going to Scandinavia, then settle down here, possibly for months. 
So I ll see Don here, I hope. I hope to see Cane. 

I had a lovely week doing the abortive revolution in Vienna 1 & flew 
for the first time comfortable, & slightly monotonous with nice little 
paper bags to be sick into which I wasn t. 

Seems to me there ought to be. a big new ad campaign on Elmer in 
late September, (I d come in on it, of course), with entirely new forms of 
ads. Reprint the freak items Billy Sunday s attacks; the story of the man 
in Kansas City who was arrested for stealing an Elmer, etc. But emphasize 
this: You have heard about E.G., you have talked about it, but have you 
READ it? You may hate it or love it, but there must be a lot to this book 
which has caused more talk than any book since Main Street. Hundreds 
of preachers & editorial writers have said "The book can be ignored" & 
then they ve ignored it for a whole column or a whole sermon. What is 
there in the book to stir them to such passionate interest? Read it & see. 

How about it? 


Hotel Atlantic 
Der Kaiserhof 
Berlin, Aug. 3 
Dear Alf: 

Will you please send Our Mr. Wrenn, The Trail of the Hawk, The 
Job, Free Air and Main Street to Mrs. Dorothy Thompson, 8 Handelstr., 
Tiergarten, Berlin. These are to be charged to me. 

I am off in a week for a month s hiking around England. The Ber- 
liners have been particularly nice to me and I have had a lot of literary 
editors come and call on me. Especially nice has been Lion Feuchtwanger, 
the author of Jew Suss, who wants to dedicate a new book to me. 
Rowohlt (publisher) is a truly charming fellow and I am sure that he is 
going to do much more with my books than Wolff did. 


1 Lewis met Dorothy Thompson one evening in Berlin, and when as the corre 
spondent of the New York Evening Post she flew to Vienna the next day, Lewis 
obeyed a sudden impulse to take the same plane. 

[1927] 251 

There were no letters -from Lewis while he was in England. He arrived 
back in Germany early in September when there was an exchange of 
cables, and then no further communication until his letter of September 

Herkules-Haus, Berlin 
Sept. 30 
Dear Alf : 

What s the news? Does Gantry keep going? When will the drama 
tization be produced? When s Don coming? I ve been settled down very 
peacefully in Berlin ever since my five cheerful weeks in England & the 
Rhineland, & just to get my hand in before starting the new novel, I ve 
written a 15,000 word story for Mencken. Tomorrow I go to Paris to see 
Mel Cane before he sails, but I ll return here. I m going to talk to him 
about (say nothin of this to nobody) the possibilities of a Paris divorce. 
It s quite clear now that there never will be a reconciliation tho I hope 
& believe that Grace & I will remain friendly. Quite possibly we ll actually 
be friendlier than if we were tied together. 

I hope the new book (the title of it begins to look more like Exile 
than Sunset or any of the other previous choices) won t be over 110,000 
words long, & that it will be finished in the spring possibly, thus, ready 
for publication a year from now. Then, I think, when I get back to Amer 
ica, I ll tackle Neighbor again. That book has remained with me, like 
Main Street, despite several failures to get it going. I m terribly glad 
you ve taken Guthrie s novel, 1 & I hope you like it as well as I do. Write 
me what you & the others think of it. 

Mit as we Germans say 

Herzlichen Griiss, 

Brace wrote to Lewis that he and Mrs. Brace were sailing for London on 
October $th and expected to get to Paris about November $tb. 

Berlin, Wednesday 
Dear Don: 

Your letter announcing your sailing came just this morning. I m most 
eager to see you, but as after so long a loaf I m up to my ears in the new 
book, I feel disinclined to come to London. Also, I want you to see Berlin. 
Can t you come up? It s only about twelve hours from London, via Hook 
of Holland. 

1 Parachute, 1928. 


I d vaguely planned to go to Russia, but I don t think I shall now; 
I think I ll stay here and work. The only time I plan to be out of town 
is this coming weekend, when I m going to the country with a news 
paperman who has a shooting box (as, I believe, such objects are called) 
in Thuringia. Why not skip up here for a few days, or, later, go to Paris 
via Berlin and Munich stopping perhaps in Holland for a day or two on 
your way here? 

Love to Ida. I m feeling immense better than I have for two or three 


October 13 
Dear Red: 

I am more than glad to have your good letter of September 30th, and 
I am chagrined at how the weeks have slipped by without my writing to 
you. I had a real three weeks holiday. I think both Don and Hal have sent 
you some bulletins on how things were going. Sales (of Gantry) have 
really been first-rate since the first of July 19,400, making a grand total 
since publication of 229,000, which is, after all, a pretty good total easily 
twice that of any other novel published this year. We are trying some 
striking billboard stuff now as a reminder about the book, feeling that the 
public has seen so much of it in the newspapers and magazines that they 
are apt to take advertisements in such places for granted and that the law 
of diminishing returns is apt to get in its usual deadly work. We are going 
to keep right after it through the fall, and I think a total of 250,000 is 
pretty sure. I think, too, that as a document on the subject the book is 
going to have the life of a non-fiction book in addition to the life it de 
serves as a novel. 

Melville landed yesterday, and I have just talked with him over the 
telephone. His report of you is fine, and you must know how happy it 
makes me. It s all borne out, too, by the tone of your letter and the news 

The dramatization is not yet in rehearsal. Veiller has had a great 
success with The Trial of Mary Dugan, which went on early in August 
and which will make his name? bulk all the larger as your dramatist. The 
contract calls for production this year. I was to hear more about it this 
week and I ll write to you after I do. 

Your news about the reason for your trip to Paris is not real news 
because Grace has been interested to consult me in an entirely friendly 

[1927] 253 

manner about her feelings and problems in regard to it. I am sure it s a 
good thing all round. I am doubly convinced that one of the most impor 
tant steps in her life and yours must be taken carefully for the benefit of 
everybody concerned. I think this would be true of ordinary people, but 
with people of your prominence it s essential that there should be no 
possibility of a comeback. Bernie l and Melville know all about it, and 
you can safely be guided by them. I think Grace is to go to Nevada just 
after the first of the year, and I hope it will work out on that basis. I think 
it will be better for her health, for you, and for everybody if it s done 
that way. 

We had a cable from Don this morning that he arrived in London 
and is at the Mayf air. 

I am glad to know about the 15,000 word story for Mencken. Won t 
you send me a carbon copy or ask Mencken to send me early proofs? 
And Exile strikes me as just the right title for the new novel. I am glad 
Neighbor lingers with you. I have taken the contract for it out of the safe 
several times and given it a little pat. 

Everything is serene with us. We are having a whale of a year s 
business. Ellen and I have bought a house on the shore of the Sound just 
above Greenwich where there ll be room and a welcome for you when 
ever you re ready. We hope to move in the end of the month. Hastings 
is in Meikle John s 2 Experimental College out at Wisconsin trying to find 
out what it s all about. Write again when it comes handy. 

Ever yours, 

October 14 
Dear Red: 

Continuing my letter of yesterday: The dramatization of Gantry is 
practically complete, and it goes into rehearsal early in November with 
production in view in December perhaps just before Christmas. I hear 
that the first two acts are scrumptious; they re mainly characterization. 
The trouble Veiller is having now is the transition between the second 
and third acts. 

As rumors increase about the next novel, inquiries about serial rights 
will also increase and folks will start pestering you. I think we have both 
learned it is better not to serialize, but if you should decide to, I am con- 

* Bernard M. L. Ernst, lawyer and partner of Melville Cane. 
2 Alexander Meiklejohn, professor of philosophy and chairman, Experimental 
College, University of Wisconsin. 


vinced you can get more for it when it s done than you can for the idea 
and be saved an awful lot of bother in the meantime. 

Ever yours, 

On October 22nd Lewis cabled that he was sailing for New York immedi 
ately, but he cabled again a few days later that he was remaining in Berlin 
after all. 

October 25 
Dear Alf: 

When I telegraphed you last week that I was sailing immediately for 
New York, it was because it looked as though Grace would keep chang 
ing her mind, keep putting off things for months and months; and Cane 
had just cabled me that a German divorce, like a Paris divorce, might 
easily be invalidated, or at least seriously questioned, later, in the Amer 
ican courts. So I decided to go to Nevada myself, and get the thing really 
done. I had my ticket, and had my trunks completely packed, ready to 
be off for Hamburg tomorrow morning, when last evening came cables 
from both Cane and Grace, suggesting that I stay, and that it would make 
Grace miserable (it was such a fine, sincere wire from her) if she felt that 
she had made me interrupt the work on Exile. She is now, apparently, 
really ready to go West about mid-January. 

It would, of course, be much better to remain here till I get Exile 
done remain an exile myself till then! So, rather weary after getting 
everything done for sailing, I decided to get everything undone again and 
here I am, back at work (and hoping to get my trunks back from Ham 
burg by tomorrow! ) . I ll hope to be home before next summer, with the 
book all done; or, if I don t come myself, to have the ms in your hands 
early in May, or earlier, all ready for fall publication. 

I m grateful to you for all your news about Elmer, advertising, the 
play, and so on, and please go on giving me details and please be sure to 
thank Hal for his letter, and his proof from the billboard people. This 
seems to me an excellent stunt. But I think you might also do the news 
paper stunt which I suggested of a conglomeration of the principal sensa 
tional clippings about Elmer, because really we are justified in saying that 
since Uncle Tom no book has been so discussed, 

I want so much to see your new house. Christen a room for me. 

I ve come as I think I ve written you to have the most immense 
personal liking as well as business respect for Ernst Rowohlt so much so 
that I hope some day for a Harcourt-Cape-Rowohlt alliance. And asking 
various littery gents here, I find that they have the same sort of respect 

[1927] 255 

for him that people who knew had for Don and you while the firm was 
still small. . . . Here s the sort of thing he does: Having had Gantry 
translated by quite a good man, he s having Count Montgelas, who spent 
several years in America, go over the proofs again, at a fair expense. 

I m hoping to see Don before he sails. I wrote him in London asking 
him if he couldn t come here between London and Paris, then when I 
expected to sail I got him on the long-distance phone and explained now 
I ll explain again all over! I hope to get him here before he sails. 

About the story for Mencken: It s just possible that we may want to 
make a small (60,000) word book out of this and three others. It s the 
account by a Babbitt, entirely in his own words without any comment by 
the author, as to how he called on Coolidge in the White House and not 
till the last page do we find that he never really saw Coolidge. Of course 
I love this sort of drool and it ll be my swan-song to Babbittism. I want 
to wait till I hear from Menck as to how it strikes him, and then, if he 
finds it good, I ll send you, as you suggest, a carbon of the story, and see 
what you think about a book of this stuff. 

Alf, I haven t for years felt so serene, well, secure. You d better get 
ready to publish several nice lil books by Sinclair Lewis, now that he s 
gone through his apprenticeship and begun to live. You delicately hint as 
though you had heard of Dorothy; that s why, though I m still devoted to 
German beer and wine, I haven t had and, what is more curious, haven t 
wanted, a drop of whisky, gin, rum, brandy or any of their delightful but 
rather destructive little brothers for a long time now. Write me here I ll 
be here till about January ist, at least. 


995 Fifth Avenue, 
New York City 
October 25th. 
Dear Alfred: 

As Hal is as much addicted to telegrams and cables as Jesse Lasky, 
you probably heard from him this morning. I heard the following: "All 
right remain Europe writing." 

A few more of these colon-upsetting cables and you will receive 
concerning me an engraved invitation to Campbell s Luxurious Funeral 
Parlors. The possibility of Hal s return, just as I had calmly settled myself 
in the obscurity of upper Fifth Avenue until after Wells Christmas holi 
days, destroyed the work of two weeks. Hal will kill me if he doesn t stay 


put. Cane and Ernst are corkers and so are you, but the general wear and 
tear is frightful. 

Have you seen Charlie Shaw s almost scurrilous vignette of Hal in 
the last Vanity Fair? As he only knew Hal during that insane period last 
winter, his deductions are undoubtedly fair, but I do hate the idea of them 
being incorporated in a book. 

I am back as you see at the old address but in a higher and sunnier 
flat, where I hope to remain, Hal willing, until after Wells 7 Christmas 
holidays. I want so much to shield Wells from all unpleasantness, and 
Christmas holidays mean so much to little boys. The day after he goes 
back to school, I shall take a train for Reno. Meanwhile I shall do my 
spineless best to eject this arthritic poison from my tired old body and 
I have a birthday tomorrow! ! ! 

With trust and affection, 


Berlin, October 27 
Dear Hal: 

I was delighted to hear from you and to have tidings about the 
progress of Elmer, but I wish you d given more details about yourself and 
whom you re seeing and the village scandals, if any. 

I m really feeling immense after all my wandering, especially after a 
lot of walking in Alsace, the Rhineland, the Schwartzwald, Cornwall, and 
Shropshire, and I m settled down to the quietest kind of life, seeing very 
few people while I work on the new novel. I wish to God I could get you 
to run away and come over here for a time. I d be awfully glad to break 
away and wander with you. Why don t you? It s been so long since 
you ve been in Europe. 

Let me hear again, you profuse young correspondent! 


Without warning Bayard V tiller sent an announcement to the newspapers 
that he had given up the dramatization of Elmer Gantry. 

November 7 
Dear Red: 

Your good letter of October 25th makes me warmly happy. I am 
glad to have your testimony about Ernst Rowohlt. Everything that I have 
heard confirms what you say about his intelligence and interest. 

I d like to see the carbon of the story for Mencken, no matter what 
he says about it. Of course I m just tickled to death that Exile is going so 

[1927] 257 

well and that we may have it for next fall. After all we have done with 
Gantry this year, the lack of a novel from you would be sorely felt in our 
sales next year. Thanks to Gantry and the rest of our list, our sales will 
pretty nearly reach a million and a half this year-which is a whale of a 
publishing business. 

I just have your cable: "Oughtn t we to sue Veiller. Is Milton getting 
new dramatist and who." This situation is still a little too tangled for me 
to take definite action. I have been in close touch with Cane about it. 
We are in a perfect position legally, as our contract refers only to a 
dramatization by Veiller, and if the play is not produced by December 
first all rights revert to us and we keep the $2000 paid on account with 
out any obligations to anybody. Veiller s announcements attracted so 
much attention that I think we ll have no difficulty in reselling the dra 
matic rights to one of several producers once we are free to do so. But I 
want to be careful not to open negotiations with anyone else until after 
this contract has cleared itself up. There are all sorts of tales about it. 
Veiller has a great hit on, The Trial of Mary Dugan, which is making him 
a couple of thousand dollars a week. I hear vaguely that the District At 
torney has been making threats to close up Mary Dugan, and I hear still 
more vaguely that some of the church people have used this as a club to 
scare him off Elmer Gantry. 

Ever yours, 

Berlin, Nov. 12 
Dear Alf: 

I m still waiting for word from you re Veiller s chucking ms-Fve 
seen only newspaper clips. Something must be done. Could we get Stal- 
lings, O Neill, or Sidney Howard to dramatize it? 

I think in January ads you ought to have some more notices of 
Gantry, however small. True, as you say, that many ads this fall would 
seem simply repetition. But after that period, if we don t advertise, people 
will think the book is dead-indeed it will become. dead & this one I think 
we could keep alive. I wish you d give particular attention to it. Nothing 
moves slower than the religious mind, especially as I know it in the West. 
If you ll go ont advertising, with claims of "still best seller after one year- 
still most sensationally discussed book of century" I think you may hit a 
whole new stratum of readers. And drive the idea home: "You, Mr. 
Church-goer, if you haven t read Gantry, instead of taking your pastor s 
word for it, you don t know what your own church & your own faith 
really mean today." 


And how about a $1.50 edition, instead of letting Grosset & D. have 
all the skimmed milk? One with a preface of the most violent attacks & 
boosts? Call it Pulpit Edition? Publicity in that. 

Exile is going apace. You ll have it by next May, for publication in 
Autumn 1928, & I hope it won t run over 120,000 perhaps less. And you 
may have it by late March, for publication in late August. 

Both Mencken & Nathan seern most unusually enthusiastic about 
"The Man Who Saw Coolidge." I ve asked Menck to send you proofs. 
I might, for 1929, either do a volume of 4 such drools by Mr, Lowell 
Schmaltz, or use this story with the few very best of my published short 
stories e.g. "Hobohemia" & "Willow Walk." I wish you d read this one 
& perhaps talk it over with Menck & see what you think. ... I already 
have plans for three possible other drools by Mr. Schmaltz. So sorry I ll 
miss Don. 


Berlin, November 29 
Dear Alf : 

I ve neglected to answer your query about Rowohlt s financial re 
sponsibility. So far as I can find out, it s perfect. One thing: he s Emil 
Ludwig s publisher, and Mr. Ludwig is one of the very best at collecting 
every cent that s coming to him. 

I ve finished 50,000 words of the first draft of the new novel and 
today I m running away to Russia, but only for a couple of weeks, then 
back to work. Yes, she s up in Russia, drat her! 


November 29 
Dear Red: 

I have been out Chicago-way for a week and on my return find a 
budget of mail from you, including your cable about advertising. I am 
sorry if some expression I used about advertising has worried you. I sup 
pose it s a sign of middle age and a temperamental inclination to promise 
less than I expect to perform that crept into my letter to you. We have 
gone right ahead with advertising. The ad you suggested a conglomera 
tion of newspaper headlines with "HAVE YOU READ ELMER GANTRY?" in a 
blank space in the middle appears next Sunday in the Times here and 
next week in Chicago. 

[1927] 259 

Unless Milton comes through in the next two days with a proposal of 
a satisfactory dramatist for Gantry, he will receive a formal note from 
Melville on the first of December informing him that he has not fulfilled 
his contract and that that contract is null and void. Then we ll be free to 
move in other directions. 

What you say about Rowohlt and Gantry is fine. I think there is a 
chance for a big German sale on it. 

One of the nicest books we have published lately is Carl Sandburg s 
The American Songbag. All the old stuff is in it and a lot of Carl, too. 
I am sending it along to you, hoping it will arrive before Christmas and 
make you homesick. 

Your recent letters sound as if you are hard at work on the new 
novel. Your tone changes when you get absorbed. Good luck to you and 
to it! 

Ever yours, 

December 9 
Dear Brother: 

I know your faith and I know your works and you should be 
informed that through some friends of mine I have had the privilege and 
I hope you appreciate what a privilege it isto read in advance of the mass 
of the American public an account of a trip to Washington by a good 
American citizen and a classmate of Coolidge, which, not only because of 
what it tells of the President and the sound doctrines of American man 
hood and manners which it inculcates, but also as a revelation of our 
democracy and the opportunity which this great land affords, is bound to 
do good, not only now, but for years to come. 

The piece is perfectly splendid. I haven t had more fun over anything 
for a long time. I think it would make a little book. I have asked Don to 
read it and see what he thinks. I don t believe I would combine it with 
anything else unless it were exactly in the same key. Will you cable if it 
is all right for us to publish it next spring as a little book at $1.00, a la 
Irvin Cobb s Sfeaking of Operations 1 ? One reason for doing it is that it 
is really genial and a pleasant farewell to Babbittry for you. 

I hope you had a good time in Russia. Ellen and I are hoping that you 
and "she" will come over here in the spring and settle down with us for 
as long as you please. Our new house is lovely. A piece of the Sound is 
just across the road from us. It s quiet; there aren t many neighbors, but 
lots of people are in reach if and when we want them. There s even a little 
farmer s cottage, which I bought so that no one else could get it, which 


might do nicely for a honeymoon or for finishing a novel, with meals and 
service from our house if that arrangement might be more fun. 

Ever yours, 


P.S. Our spring list goes to the printer Monday. We shall put The Man 
Who Knew Coolidge into the list, and shall expect you to cable immedi 
ately on receipt of this if you do not agree to our publishing it this spring. 
Don enjoyed it as much as I, and points out that it should be done this 
spring, as the splendid title will lose much of its force if the piece is 
published after the Presidential campaign starts with Calvin out of the 
running and on the shelf. 

Cable from Berlin Dec 1 1 
New York 

Just returned Russia. If you publish Coolidge skit alone twill be merely 
timely pamphlet also being serialized Mercury have smaller sale. Can and 
wish unite it with three similar pieces be called something like Soul of 
Lowell Schmaltz as complete novel to have enduring sale. Probably never 
be desirable for me do more than one such stunt and shame waste it with 
this quarter finished effort. Now that Mencken and you approve could 
do rest even better yet not make whole long enough be boring. Can write 
this stuff incredible speed and have whole mailed in four weeks to be 
published coming spring as fortyfive to sixty thousand word book two 
dollars or one seventy five. Never had stronger hunch and advise you 
agree turn little item into big book. Had conferences State Publishing 
House Russia. Believe can arrange convention we get royalties my and 
other books they publish including my back royalties if you pay equal 
royalties on such of theirs you publish. You can also arrange same behalf 
other American publishers. Shall write terms etc if you cable that I free 
start proceedings which you OK later. 


December iz 
Cable to 
Sinclair Lewis 

While could get more dollars this spring from Schmaltz volume you 
describe we feel most readers may know all they want to of him from 

[1927] 261 

this piece. Urge Man Who Knew Coolidge as title anyway. You know 
rest of material and must decide but keep present title. We will recipro 
cate Russian royalties. If you write terms will lay before Publishers Asso 
ciation. Think most publishers will pay on modern books but not on 
pre-revolution noncopyrights like Tolstoi. 


Cable from Berlin Dec 13 
New York City 

Alright keep title Man Who Knew Coolidge but expect book fifty thou 
sand words. Shall make it exactly that length. Am sure Russians expect 
royalties only new books. Dont lay formally before Publishers Associ 
ation till I send details. Must still correspond Russia. 


December 14 
Dear Red: 

There will probably be a lull now in the exchange of cables about 
The Mm Who Knew Coolidge. We also have the description of the new 
material, and it sounds fine. Of course we ll make a $2.00 book. This vol 
ume seems to me to be of the order of Mantrap rather than of the order 
of Gantry, and we shouldn t spend as much money in advertising this as 
Gantry or Exile. The sales may be large; if so, it is apt to be because 
people will find reading it great fun and recommend it to each other. If 
after we have the book out and the problem of more advertising comes 
up, we can make a special arrangement about that as we have on various 

This stuff is so amusing that I think we re all doing the right thing to 
pick up what odd change we can out of it this spring. If Exile should get 
done for the autumn, well and good. If you need more time to work it 
over lovingly, that will be all right anyway. 

Don t force the new material to 50,000 words if it doesn t come 
naturally. The various scenes and occasions of the Schmaltz monologues 
enable you to cover a wide range, but it s much better to have too little 
than too much of such highly humorous, satirical material. 

Ever yours, 


December 22 

Dear Red: 

About the dramatic version of Gantry: As I wrote you before, we 
were not free to move in the matter until Milton s failure to produce 
Veiller s version by the first of December actually outlawed his contract. 
Finally, after a week or two of negotiation, I signed a contract last week 
with Patrick Kearney, who dramatized An American Tragedy, to make 
a play from Elmer. 1 - He is het up about the book, has good ideas for the 
play,- and he s the best we could find. 

The January Mercury with "The Man Who Knew Coolidge" went 
on the stands yesterday. We are setting March as a tentative publication 
date but may switch that around, according to when we can get the com 
plete material in pages to show to the Book-of-the-Month Club. We ought 
to give them -a chance at it, and one month may be better than another 
for them. Experience seems to show that both the Book-of-the-Month 
Club and the Literary Guild are exceedingly useful as advertising besides 
the actual cash which a sale to them brings in. 

We are winding up the best year we have ever had, with sales run 
ning a little over a million and a half. And you re winding up the best 
year you ve ever had. So everything is lovely, and the goose hangs high. 

Ever yours, 

Berlin, Dec. 23 
Dear Alf: 

Within four days I expect to start off to you all the rest of The Mem 
Who Knew Coolidge. I mailed to you a few days ago the revised first part 
with the front matter. I expect the whole thing to come out 48 or 50,000 

Sometime next week I hope to be able to send you practically the 
whole manuscript of the articles which Dorothy Thompson is doing for 
the New York Evening Post and the Philadelphia Public Ledger likely 
to be sold by them to the Boston Transcript and other papers alsoon 
Russia. To me it seems the best stuff I have ever read on Russia, but prob 
ably I am prejudiced. It really gives a clear idea of such matters as the 
Red Army, the evolution of a new High Society in Russia, how one really 
lives there, and a lot of other things. I think it would really make a peach 
of a timely book, particularly interesting to all business men who are 

1 After a try-out in Cleveland, Patrick Kearney s dramatization of Elmer Qtmtry 9 
under direction of William A. Brady, was presented by Joseph E. Shea at The Play 
house Theatre, New York City, August 9th, 1928. 

[1927] 263 

wondering whether they can do business with Russia; and as to the com 
plete authenticity of her material, I can vouch myself. 

As soon as I finish The Man Who Knew Coolidge I amafter a 
week s vacation in the mountains going to get right back to Exile and I 
hope to have it ready for publication at latest January first 1929. It would 
probably be as well not to publish it next fall, because the book after that 
is very likely to be Neighbor and I should think that would entail a couple 
of years work. 

Dorothy and I myself seem to find the new part of The Man Who 
Kne*w Coolidge at least as good as the first, and getting rather more away 
from immediate timeliness, so that I think there is a ghost of a possibility 
with this of another 200,000 sale anyway, be prepared for such a possi 

Feeling fine despite going so hard and I want to send all of you my 
warmest Christmas greetings. 


January 6 

Dear Red: 

We are looking, for the complete manuscript of The Man Who 
Knew Coolidge by the next steamer, and we shall attend to careful proof 
reading here. We now have a first-rate person for that sort of thing in the 
office. She may do it, or we may have Feipel do it and then superimpose 
her judgment on his. I wonder what the Britishers and Germans will make 
of this book-if it will match their sense of humor. 

We are in our usual position as regards the contract. I have sent you 
one on the basis of Mantrap. I couldn t help snickering at finding that we 
are again trying to get you to take a little more and you re arguing for a 
little less. I think you had better let us have our way this time and sign 
the contracts that are sent to you on the understanding that if we need 
more room for advertising we ll lower the royalty on a^certain number of 
copies to 10% and spend the difference in special exploitation. 

The Dorothy Thompson articles * will have our prayerful consider 
ation. It sounds good to me. 

Love to you both. 

Ever yours, 


i Later in the year the articles were published by Henry Holt and Company 
under the title New Russia. 


Lewis remained in Berlin longer than he had planned, all the while Work 
ing on Dodsworth. And then mid-March there was a letter from him from 

c/o American Express Company, 
Naples, March 19 

Here! and here instead of Sicily because there are villas to be had, 
and, I learned, few if any in Sicily. Indeed I m moving into one today- 
small but charming, and very quiet, with the most beautiful view of the 
sea and Vesuvius and the village-lined distant shores, and a big garden to 
walk in and breakfast in. I have the villa for exactly seven weeks after 
which, England and the caravan. 

I have finished 105,000 words of the first draft of Exile, and hope to 
have the whole first draft finished before I leave here on the caravan 
trip, it will be easier to concentrate on rewriting than on first draft. I feel 
so content and well. And Frn thinking of Neighbor, and of the dim pos 
sibility of going to California say, next September and seeing if one 
could obtain without too much cost, a tiny fruit ranch which would make 
a real home, with American background, yet with something of the 
climate and the beauty of Italy, and which would almost or quite pay for 
itself. But that s far ahead, and to be talked of when I reach NY. I 
wouldn t want an expensive pretentious place like Jack London s, but it 
would be nice to have one in which there might be some tiny income 
instead of all outgo. And which one could leave in charge of the farmer- 
boss and go abroad once in two years. I mention all of this only to indicate 
a rather contented and happy outlook on the future now! 

Even with the Nevada business, it looks as though it would cost me a 
fair amount less this year than last. More sanity in spending. For example, 
the rent of the villa is only $250 for seven weeks as against $600 a month 
for that dratted big house in Washington in the fall of 1926 and two 
servants at about $50 a month for the two, instead of, as in Washington, 
three servants costing, if I remember, over $200 a month! And a more 
charming place! 

About the book no, Home would not be the right title, doesn t 
sound right. Nor is The Y earner zs the book comes out, though the wife 
is a yearner she is so much less important in the book than the husband, 
who is in no tiny degree a yearner, and the title might seem to refer to 
him. The title I most want, A Man Alone, has been used, 1 and recently. 
Fortunately, there is no hurry. If you should have to announce it ahead 

1 George Agnew Chamberlain: Mem Alone, Putnam, 1916. 

[1928] 265 

of time, better stick to Dodrworth 1 as title. It fits the book, as you ll see. 
You say "I d guess this would be a good time to get away from the name 
title." Well in the first place, I ll certainly get away from it after this time 
whether my next is Neighbor or some shorter ad interim novel to do 
while laboring over the long task of preparation for Neighbor. And sec 
ond, as I ve pointed out, with the success of hundreds of such titles as 
Nicholas Nickleby, David Copperfield, Martin Chuzzlevxt, Oliver Tivist, 
The Newcombes, Ethan Frame, David Harum, to say nothing of the 
well-known novels called Babbitt and Elmer Gantry, there is a question 
whether any title can in the long run after the first introductionbe more 
distinctive, satisfactory, and memorable than a name title. (Oh yuh, one 
might also mention fere Goriot & Mme* Bovary.) 

Do you know that the great General Conference of the Methodist 
Church meets in Kansas City this yearI think in May? This is the con 
ference of the whole blooming Methodist Church (North) ; it meets only 
once in four years; it elects bishops and decides vast policies; and it must 
be attended by thousands, preachers and laymen. Now they re going to 
talk a lot about Elmer Gantry, particularly as they meet in Kansas City. 
Why don t you arrange to have all K.C. booksellers have large stocks of 
Elmerii necessary on consignmentwith special advertising. For a lot of 
these Methodists, including some who have preached on the book, will not 
have seen it, and might buy it if it were there at hand, whereas they ve 
never had the chance in their little towns. 

I can see special advertising to the effect: Greetings to the General 
Conference: You have read and talked about E.G. maybe preached about 
it but have you read the book itself? You have heard that Gantry is a 
scoundrel, but do you know that in Frank Shallard and Mr. Pengilly, one 
a liberal and one a fundamentalist, Mr. Lewis has produced two of the 
noblest and most inspiring of preachers in fiction? No novel about the 
church has ever been more talked of none has ever been more praised or 
more denounced read it and see why. 

As all these Methodists will go back to every quarter of the country 
and talk, it s not just a question of how many they buy themselves but 
what they start. I can even imagine a billboard, near the entrance of each 
of the churches at which they hold meetings, giving some such gospel 
message as I have outlined above. I think this would be awfully worth 
doing, whatever the cost. (Heh? Sure I ll come in on cost.) Might give 
new life to the book. If you use the billboards, put on them "To be 
bought in almost every bookshop in Kansas City"-because the Methodist 
Book Concern probably does not handle the book. Mightn t it be worth 

iThe other titles Lewis considered for the book were Evening, Exile, Sunset, 
Blind Giant. 



the expense to send some one, possibly even Hal, to Kansas City for this 
stunt? . . . And there might be a good news story in it. 

How about my suggestion that Ellen and you join me for a week or 

two this summer? Be room. 



For about four months, during which Le<wis lived in the villa in Naples 
and then went to England, he had little occasion to write his publishers. 
He was actively engaged in completing Dodsworth. 

April ii 

Dear Red: 

It has been a long time since I ve written you, although I hear 
occasional echoes of what you are doing abroad. The Man Who Knew 
Coolidge * is launched and on the whole, as you probably know, the 
reviews are favorable. Canby and Hansen were both enthusiastic and the 
Times treated you to a front page. Your old friend in Chicago, Fanny 
Butcher, 2 turned both thumbs down. 

The General Conference of the Methodist Church is to be held in 
Kansas City in Convention Hall during the entire month of May. We are 
going in for an extensive billboard campaign which will cover the whole 
city. It would have cost just about as much to have tried to take isolated 
billboards near the Convention Hall and churches, and we have made up 
our mind that it would be better to do the job thoroughly. Consequently, 
there will be 49 billboard displays in Kansas City including 1 3 illuminated 
boards in the center of the town. Altogether it will run to $1000, but we 
feel sure it will be worth it since, as you said, "all these Methodists will go 
back to every part of the country and talk." We will, of course, have as 
many copies of Elmer Gantry in the bookstores by May i as we are able 
to force on them. 

I find life now in New York as entertaining as ever, but this winter 
has been somewhat exhausting. Claire has been abroad for the last two 
months and probably won t be back till June. I don t believe you will run 
across her trail because she s in southern France and then is going to Spain. 
It s hard to keep the girls at home these days. 


On April 1 6th Mrs. Lewis obtained a Reno divorce. 

1 Published April 5th. 

2 Reviewer and columnist on the Chicago Tribune. 

[1928] 267 

Savoy Hotel 
London, W.C. 
May 6 
Dear Hal: 

So good to hear from you. You probably know by now that Dorothy 
Thompson and I will be married, here in London, a week from tomorrow. 
You ll see her, if you re in New York, probably about mid-August which 
means you will see me mit. We ll probably buy a farm somewhere in 
New England, Maryland, or California. Perhaps you can take a day or 
two off and run around with us, looking at places. I wish I had a place 
like Carl Van Doren s. 

Yes, sure: bring the royalty on Gantry down on the next 5000, to 
pay for my half of the Kansas City display. Let me know what comes of 
the stunt, and what the newspapers say that the preachers say. 

Cape tells me there is a fine advance sale on Man Who Knew 
Coolidge herehe publishes on May 11. 

I feel fine. I m looking forward so keenly to caravanning all summer 
here, but also I m beginning to be keen to see America again, and I ll be 
excited to sail and to see you-all. ver 


Salisbury, England 

July 13 

Dear Alf : 

The journey continues to be a great success. We had a little rest from 
camping by spending a week here in Salisbury catching up on work and 
letters-including finishing the first draft of Dodrwortb and doing some 
revising on it; then had a week of touring in Dorset, Devon, and Corn 
wall-glorious country. After a couple of days here again catching up, 
we start for Wales. 

We re becoming awfully keen to get home, and we spend large wide 
hours talking about the possibilities of a farm in America. See you soon! 


Cable from Paris Aug 17 


New York City 

May take four months finishing Dodsworth. Better not plan publish 

before April Lewis 


Lew md his wife, Dorothy Thompson Lewis, returned to the United 
States August 28th. They stayed at the Harcourt house in Riverside, Con 
necticut, -for a time, and after looking for a country place, they purchased 
a joo-acre farm near Bmard, Vermont, where they stayed until early 
November, while he continued his work on Dodsworth. Then they came 
to New York and stayed at their apartment at 57 West Tenth Street. 
There he finished the manuscript and delivered it to his publishers before 
Christmas. About the middle of February 192$ the Lewises went to 
Florida. All this while contact between Lewis and the office was in person 
or by telephone. 


The Nobel Prize 

February 18 
Dear Red: 

Here s another letter from Rowohlt persisting in true Continental 
merchant fashion in his plea for a lower royalty on Dodrworth. I think 
10% is not too much to ask. We made a concession on Mantrap because 
that was somewhat out of line with your other novels. I would be inclined 
to stand pat on our proposal. I wrote him ten days ago that we d have to 
stick to 20% for serial & 10% for book. What he is offering now is 10% 
on the paper bound books and the same number of pfennigs per copy on 
the cloth bound books. We have noticed in recent royalty reports from 
Germany that the sale of cloth bound books seems to be increasing there, 
and of course it s better to have the royalty on the higher priced book. 
If we hadn t made the concession on Mcmtrap, we wouldn t have had this 

We just have your telegram that you are at Homosassa. I hope you 
like- Florida and that you both catch big fish. 

Ever yours, 

The Lodge, 
Horaosassa, Fla. 
Feb. 21 

Dear Alf : 

Stick by the io/ for book and 20% for serial. If Rowohlt won t take 
it, some one else will-though I d like to continue with him. 

The fishing is fine, the weather glorious, and I m having a real rest, 
though I am spending part of each day writing. We may stay away till 


mid-March, looking in at Palm Beach and possibly even Havana. We ll be 
here for about another week. 

If you still have copies of the special edition of Dodsworth, I wish 
you d send me one P.D.Q. Put down Cabell, Edith Wharton, and Louis 
Bromfield on the list of people who ought to have copies -f or boosting. 
Dodsworth ought to go to my Swede publishers as early as possible. 

Try Middletown * and Love in Chicago 2 on the German publishers. 


March 14 
Dear Red: 

L am glad to have an address for you, and I have just telegraphed 
you: "Advance fifty thousand. Times Hansen Phelps highly favorable 
Mencken disappointed Tribune stupid. Have ordered our best and heaviest 
advertising so far. Outlook really fine." The advance of 50,000 is first-rate. 
It means that we have been able to get the impression around generally 
that Dodsworth 8 is a sure-fire big book. It s extraordinary how fast the 
notion got around to the public that they didn t want The Man Who 
Knew Coolidge. When you consider that we had sold 240,000 Gantry and 
that we planted only 20,000 Man Who Knew Coolidge in advance of 
publication, it is astonishing how few the public bought. It would almost 
seem as if an unfavorable impression about that book spread from one end 
of the country to the other inside of 24 hours. I mention this so you will 
understand that a really favorable impression of Dodsworth has spread 
throughout the book trade or we couldn t have an advance of 50,000. 

Baker and Taylor ordered 10,000 and the News Company 10,000. 
We can t expect re-orders until next week. They will begin to show up 
by the time you get home, and we ll have some real indications then. 
Meantime, all I can say is that everything looks fine, that the office en 
thusiasm for the book is at fever heat, and because so many other people 
here now have a hand in it, it is only fair for me to say that you re cer 
tainly getting an enthusiastic publishing job. 

I have to go West on a variety of errands about the first of April. 
Let me know definitely when you ll be home so that we can have a real 
visit before I leave. 

Love to you both. 


1 By Robert S. and Helen Merrcll Lynd, HB&Co., 1929. 

2 By Charles Walt, HB&Cp., 1929. 

8 Harcourt s letter was written on publication day, March I4th. 

[1929] 271 

Hotel Ponce de Leon 
St. Augustine, Florida 
March 15 
Dear Alf : 

Many thanks for your wire, received yesterday. Dorothy had to go 
to Pittsburgh to lecture she left yesterdaybut I m going to remain here 
a week or ten days to finish a short story for Ray Long, then join her 
in NY. 

We ve had a grand vacation though on it each of us did a short 
story and an article. We stayed at Homosassa for nearly two weeks, writ 
ing part of the day but going out fishing for five or six hours daily, with 
lunch cooked by our guide in some wild spot in the jungle; then we 
bought a flivver which I m going to ship up to Vermont from here, as 
an extra car for next summer-and believe me the new Ford is a marvelous 
car, too and we motored from Homosassa to St. Petersburg, Tampa, 
Winter Haven, Mountain Lake (where one of Edward Bok s millionaire 
neighbors is a celebrated manufacturer of pink pills), Avon Park, Oke- 
chobee, and Palm Beach, where we stayed about a week, with a jaunt 
down to Miami. Then up here, where I shall play the sedulous hermit for 
a week and return looking like Danl Boone. 

If anything interesting happens, you can get me here by wire for 
another week. See you soon. 


Hugh Walpole and Francis Brett Young would probably be interested in 
Dodsivorth. Jonathan ought to send em copies. 

March 20 

Dear Red: 

I talked with Dorothy on the telephone yesterday. It is too early for 
real re-orders on Dodswortb yet. I enclose proofs of a few of our latest 
advertisements, from which you will see that F.P.A. likes it, and so does 
Fanny Butcher. In fact, her review comes nearest to understanding what 
it is all about than that of anyone else so far! We have spent or ordered 
spent about $6000 in advertising at the moment and have as much more 
scheduled through the next three or four weeks. The book is well dis 
played everywhere around here, and in walking to the station last evening 
I saw three people carrying copies-which is a darn good sign. I have 
asked Jonathan to send copies to Walpole and Brett Young. 




In the next two months there was little correspondence between Lewis 
and the office. Mrs. Lewis arrived in New York on or before March i$th, 
and Lewis joined her at their Tenth Street apartment probably the end of 
the month. Only one brief note was written to him there by the office in 
mid-April. There is no indication as to the exact date they left for Twin 

Twin Farms 
Barnard, Vermont 
May 26 

Dear Alf : 

Will you please have another check for $1000 deposited to my 
account at the Guaranty, and confirm the deposit to me, as soon as con 
venient. . . . Carpenters bills, masons bills, all that, but Lord! what a 
lovely place we re coming to have, and this second farmhouse of ours, 
which we are modernizing to use as a guest house, is going to be even 
lovelier than the present main house in which we live we may move over 
to the other one when it s done. The whole place is even more beautiful 
than I had remembered, with spring here. When are Ellen and you com 
ing? . . . You head for Woodstock, and ask at the post office how to get 
to Barnard; at Barnard, the general store, ask how to get here. 

It seems to me that the three ringed portions in the enclosed corre 
spondence from Hugh Walpole would make about as perfect an ad as 
could be. 

I ve been thinking more about the possibility of having Babbitt in the 
Modern Library. That libraryand it seems to be improving steadily 
reaches just the sort of people who would keep Babbitt alive; and I don t 
think G & D (Grosset and Dunlap) do. Would it be possible to have it 
BOTH G & D and the Modern Library? 

I feel about one million per cent better up here than in New York. 
Curiously, I don t get in the least lonely. Evenings we read and sneak off 
to bed at 11, instead of one or two, And now I m going out and chop 
some wood well, not much wood! 


Will you please send me here a Gantry and four copies of Dodswortb. 
I find that our otherwise admirably furnished residence lacks these neces 

ALSO, did I tell you that Peggy Bacon wants to do an illustrated 
edition of Babbitt? This might be a stunning success I see it on good 

[1929] 273 

paper, selling probably at five dollars. If we did this, we wouldn t, of 
course, consider the Modern Library stunt, at least for a long time. I wish 
you d talk this over with Peggy, if you see her. Jonathan writes me that 
he is thinking of getting out a five shilling collected edition of my books. 
It seems to me that we ought, with the Bacon-illustrated Babbitt as a 
beginning, to think of something of the same sort. I believe we could get 
more out of (at least) Main St., Babbitt & Arrowsmith, than we are now, 
just leaving them to be buried among the Zane Grey books in the G & D 
collections. Let s talk it over. 


May 29 
Dear Red: 

1 am pleased to be able to report that our advertising girl beat us both 
to it on the Hugh Walpole comment on Dodswortb. When I went to her 
about it, she showed me the enclosed proof. 

It is fine to know that you re both well and happy in Vermont. It 
must be lovely there, and I am looking forward to the time when I can 
get away to see you and the place. I certainly can t leave till after Don 
gets home about the middle of June. He reports much interesting bus 
iness in London. He has made a telephone appointment with me for this 
afternoon, the idea of which I find rather exciting. 

If you look at the Peggy Bacon pictures in New Songs -for New 
Voices x and particularly when you see those she s- done for Carl s Roota- 
baga stories, 2 you will find, I think, that they lean too much on the side of 
caricature to suit Babbitt. I like her pictures enormously; in fact, I bought 
from her a dozen of the originals for New Voices to give to Ellen, who 
is really responsible for that volume. Don t you think somebody like 
Webster would do a better Babbitt than Peggy Bacon? 

I am digging out just what Grosset and Dunlap have been doing with 
the old books. I have some ideas of my own about a scheme for handling 
all our cheap editions, which I think will ripen in the course of the year, 
and which, if it does ripen, will interest you almost as much as it does us. 
I ll save that to talk about when we meet. 

I enclose some more proofs of recent advertisements of Dodsworth, 
from which you will see that we have started the steamer gift campaign. 
The book business generally is flat. Dodswortb, the new Vina Delmar 

* Edited by Louis Untermeyer and David Mannes, HB&Co., 1928. 

2 Carl Sandburg: Rootctbaga Country, HB&Co., 1929. 


short stories, 1 and Strachey s Elizabeth and Essex seem to be about the 
only books that are selling in the bookstores. 


During the next month, while Lewis was in Vermont, communication 
between him and the office was by telephone. 

June 25 
Dear Red: , 

Did you get a letter from Jonathan dated May i3th on the subject of 
a five shilling uniform edition of your books? Jonathan talked to me about 
it in London, but I didn t commit myself, thinking we should all talk it 
over when I got back. But meanwhile he wrote to you and sent me a 
copy of the letter. I think the idea is a good one, and I have talked about 
it with Alf, who thinks so too. It seems a good way to keep all the old 
books going. 

I had a pleasant and busy four and a half weeks in London. Georgian 
House seemed a little dingier, but no less comfortable. It was three years 
since I had been there. 

I expect you re enjoying the farm. Love to you and to Dorothy. 

Ever yours, 

July 3 
Dear Don: 

Welcome back! And welcome to Vermont if you ever get time to 
come here. Yes, I had Jonathan s letter and agreed with him that it would 
be a good thing to do the five shilling edition of my books. And what 
about H.B.and Co. doing the same thing? As I have written Alf, I am not 
at all satisfied with the way Grosset & Dunlap are handling my books. 
It seems to me that they just let them ride along with a lot of Zane Grey 
and detective stories. Yet there should be, in Main St and Babbitt, with 
their incredible advertising value, a steady yearly sale of I don t know 
how many tens of thousands. 

Alf says G & D are boosting them in their special dollar series. Well, 
I hear very little of this series in comparison with the Modern Library 
and the Doubleday-Doran dollar series. And I note in the enclosed ads of 
that series that not even one of my books is mentioned. We must make 

1 Loose Ladies, 1929. All three books mentioned were published by Harcourt, 

[1929] 275 

plans to see if we can t utilize the rep of these books better, maybe, eh? 
This letter, of course, is equally for Alf and you. 


July 10 
Dear Red: 

Your letter about cheap editions has been on my desk for a few days 
because of the Fourth of July weekend and because I wanted to get some 
figures from Grosset. Grosset does not publish your books in his Dollar 
Library, a list of which you sent, but in his 75^ reprints. Your books 
belong in the Dollar Library as regards distinction, but the Dollar Library 
is carried only by regular bookstores, a few department stores, and a few 
of the more important newsstands. Grosset has 30 salesmen on the road, 
two-thirds of whom are visiting drugstores, newsstands, and places which 
do not carry his Dollar Library or the Modern Library or the Doubleday 
Doran "Star Dollar Books." It s his judgment, and I agree with him, that 
your books are popular enough to profit by the wider distribution. He is 
to take on Elmer Gantry in September and is going to try that in both his 
Dollar Library and his 75 ^ Library. He is coupling with the 75^ edition 
of Gantry a new campaign on Babbitt and Main Street with a series of 
posters saying, in effect: "You all know Babbitt. You ve all said, She 
comes from Main Street. 7 Read the books that gave these words their 

There is one aspect of all this which seems important to me. The 
chief reason Grosset has extended his retail distribution and display ma 
chinery so widely is that it is a settled part of his policy not to advertise 
his cheap editions direct to the public. He thinks this would cut off his 
supplies from publishers and authors, as it tends to foul the market for 
the books at the higher prices. It might be said that you and we are lucky 
to have sold so much of your market at $2.00 and $1.50 that there hasn t 
been a great market left at 75^. I am dubious particularly about the adver 
tising of books like Trader Horn, with its hint that the public was a fool 
to buy such a book at $3.50 when if they had waited a while they could 
get it for $1.00. 1 don t like the tendency. It may lead to American pub 
lishing getting into the condition of British publishing, for their first pub 
lication is often merely for reviewers, the circulating libraries, and a small 
public, to earmark the book as important, with the real sale and real 
publishing effort put on the three-and-six, the two-and-six, the two shil 
ling, the one shilling and the ninepence editions. I d hate to have things 
get to that condition here. 


The reprint situation seems to me to be changing. I have some new 
ideas about it up my sleeve, but they can t develop for a year or two. 
Meantime, I don t like to get our machine sidetracked into selling cheap 
books with a small return both for us and for the author. 

Dodswonh keeps on. We sold 10,000 in June, and it s going at a little 
better rate this month. Sales are just beyond 85,000 in this country. We 
have been busy, and things are humming here. Some first-rate .novels have 
shown up and a top-notch lot of non-fiction is on the carpet. The latter 
includes Clemenceau s Memoirs, the third volume of Parrington, Geoffrey 
Scott s Boswell, Pringle s Roosevelt,, and Lloyd Lewis s Sherman -which 
would be hard to beat for next year. 

We ll talk more about reprints when we meet. I am looking for the 
chance to get up to see you. 

Ever yours, 

Barnard, Vermont 
July 1 6 

Your letter about the Grosset situation is very complete and satis 
factory, and obviously it will be well to go on, certainly for the present. 
There s only one sale the Grosset system fails to get for me that prestige 
sale which is more valuable, even in eventual sales, than the current figures 

Can t we, presently, handle this by getting out a collected edition of 
my books to be handled by the regular bookstores? I see something at 
about $1.75 a volume; I see us starting with Main Street, Babbitt, Arro<w- 
smth, Gantry, and Dodsworth, then adding the minor items only if the 
first plunge is a success. Keep this in mind, talk it over with Don and Gus, 
and we ll discuss it when I see you. 

All goes well though most placidly. The new house, which will have 
cost me about $10,000 beyond the first purchase price, will be done in 
about three weeks and, thank God, the huge expense will then cease. 

1 Georges Clemenceau: Grandeur and Misery of Victory, 1930. 

Vernon Louis Parrington: The Beginnings of Critical Realism in America, Vol 
ume III of Main Currents in American Thought, was published October 1930, more 
than a year after the author s death. 

Geoffrey Scott was editing the Colonel Ralph Isham collection of Private Papers 
of James Boswell from Malahide Castle and planned to write his own biography of 
Boswell. When he died shortly after this, both tasks were unfinished. 

Henry F. Pringle: Theodore Roosevelt, 1931. 

Lloyd Lewis: Sherman: Fighting Prophet, 1932. 

[1929] 277 

It will be a wonderful guest house and could, if we ever wanted to, be 
sold as a separate unit, leaving us this place and a couple of hundred acres. 
It has the most splendid view but then I hope you ll be up here to see it 

I m returning the G & D posters etc. today. I think they make a 
mistake in advertising Main St etc. just as they do Zane Grey in trying to 
sell my books on a lowbrow basis when, actually, they have always sold 
on just the opposite basis. I think they get that wrong slant from dealing 
so much with the lowbrow books they publish and forget that even the 
corner store on Main St does have a lot of school teacher and women s 
club real or would-be highbrow buyers. 

Well be here all summer except from August 5th to about August 
joth, when I ll be at Middlebury College. When you get sick of the NY 
smell, do come shooting up whenever you feel like it. 


July 30 
Dear Red: 

I just had a nice visit with Ramon Guthrie. He seems to be wabbling 
a little about his work, but I think he is back here in pretty good shape 
and that some one of the books he has on the stocks is apt to fall into 
order rather promptly. He says he is coming up to see you, and I think 
it would be a grand thing for him. He is also talking of getting a teaching 
job, which he can do without its taking much out of him, to take the 
bread-and-butter worry off his neck while he gets a book or two into 
shape. I think this is a good idea, and we are keeping our eyes open for 
some connection. You might keep it on your mind while you are at 
Middlebury. If you mention his name now and then, there is apt to be 
someone there who knows of an opening. 

Harcourt, Brace and Company celebrated the tenth anniversary of its 
incorporation yesterday. It was too hot for anything but a very mild 
celebration. Don and Gus and Joel came out to Riverside and had dinner 
with Ellen and me, and we sat around and talked about our mistakes. 

Ever yours, 

Lewis made a hurried visit to New York after his session at Middlebury 
College in Vermont and arranged to have Harcourt, Brace publish the 
work of his yoimg frot6g, Fred Rothermell. 


August 12 
Dear Red: 

We have been trying to close the office Saturdays while it is so hot 
so I am just able today to send you the contracts for Rothermell s novels. 
Of course we are glad to follow your judgment in a case of this sort. 

More power to your elbow, which I hope had enough pleasant exer 
cise to justify your visit to our metropolis during this hot term. The more 
I think of the boy s story the more I like it. 

Ever yours, 

Barnard, Vermont 
August 13 
Dear Alf: 

I enjoyed my brief bat in New York my only one in three months 
but I enjoyed still more getting back to this lovely coolness and quiet. 

I m enclosing the Rothermell contract, one copy, signed. He will be 
sending you both mss, and then you can see which one you would like to 
publish first and, if it prove to be Superman instead of Fifth Avenue, you 
can just change name on the contract. He s revising both mss and I m 
going over both of them again before he sends them. 

I rather think that it will be Superman that you will want to publish 
first, but we ll see. Meantime, as soon as he gets these two revised, he will 
go back ,to a third novel, which he has half finished. Lord I envy him that 
industry of 30! 
Come on! 


There were no letters for a period of three weeks, and at the end of the 
summer Harcourt and his wife took a trip to New England and dropped 
in to see Lewis at his farm. 

Barnard, Vt. 

September 7 
Dear Alf: 

Jimmie Sheean writes me from Palestine asking me to O.K. his 
contract with you. 1 1 shall be glad to do this, if you will send it on. 

1 Vincent Sheean: Qog and Magog, HB&Co., 1930. 

[1929] 279 

We want to see you and Ellen up here soon again, when we are not 
swamped with other guests. We hardly had a moment for a real chin. 


Barnard, Vermont 
September 16 
Dear Alf : 

Andre Siegfried l will be in New York soon indeed he may already 
have arrived. He was here for a few days and told me of something that 
might make a great book for you. His father, later a Senator of France, 
came to America in about 1860. He became acquainted with Lincoln; was 
an intimate of the White House; went there almost daily; talked with 
cabinet members about the most crucial affairs. All this is related in 
a diary which, I understand, Siegfried has and which has never been 
published. Wouldn t it, with a proper (and not too short) preface by 
his distinguished son, make a bully publishing item? Talk to Siegfried 
about it. 

And another idea. Is there today any really up-to-date Hoyle? I once 
tried to find one and couldn t. There are plenty of books on bridge, but is 
there any book giving, and properly, the new rules for all forms of bridge, 
poker, roulette, chemin de f er, baccarat, all forms of rummy, etc. etc.? 

I wish you would send me, roughly, the sale of Dodswonh to date, 
and the approximate amount of money now due me from HB and Co. 
I must begin to think about financing the writing of the new novel, which 
is going to be Neighbor with the new slants created by the fact there ain t 
no labor today in itself a dramatic thing: and I don t want, if I can help 
it, to have to write at all for Ray Long 2 or any magazine while I m doing 
it. Of course this year, with the rebuilding of the new house, I ve needed 
a lot of current money. That s all paid for now or will be with the next 
check, due me from Ray on October ist and next year there isn t a single 
thing we need to do on the place though always, as you so well know, 
there s endless things one agreeably can do. 

If Ann ( Watkins) would only sell the Dodsivorth movie, even if she 
only got $20,000 for it, that would amply take care of financing next year. 
But as I don t want, under any considerations, to touch any of my sav- 

1 Harcourt, Brace had published Siegfried s America Comes of Age in 1927. 

2 By this time the name of Hearst s International Magazine had been changed to 
Cosmopolitan Magazine, and Ray Long was still editor. 


ings, if she doesn t sell it, I m afraid I may have to do a little magazine 
work to get through. 

It s gorgeous here now the autumn has just set in with days so fine 
that I have to use Xian Science on myself to stay indoors before the type 
writer. The trees have turned only a little, and from now on, unless we 
hit a soggy rainy spell, it will be finer and finer, till about October 15. 


September 19 
Dear Red: 

Thanks for your note of the i6th. I have heard from Andr6 Siegfried 
and expect to see him tomorrow. 

I ll get after Ann about the possibility of some motion picture income. 
About your financial situation, your balance on the first of July has been 
whittled down, by your withdrawals and by the $1000 a month to Grace, 
to $10,619.00. Since the first of July, Dodsworth has earned $4000. This 
does not account for royalties from England or translations. I should 
guess there would be at least $5000 from those sources. I ll really stir 
around about some motion picture money. I agree with you that it is too 
bad to work for Ray Long when you re ready to get at a big job, I ll let 
you know when anything develops. 

Ever yours, 

Barnard, Vermont 
September 20th 
Dear Alf : 

Will you please send me another copy of Middletoim? I gave mine 
to Andr6 Siegfried, who had never heard of the book and who was most 
excited by it 

Are we going to see you up here again before we leave on the 9th of 
October? I am going to Toronto to the A. F. of L. Conference. Reason: 
Neighbor. Dorothy and I were sorry to have seen you for such a very 
short time and had hoped you would get up here again before we left. 
The weather is lovely, 


[1929] 281 

September 23 
Dear Red: 

I had a nice visit with Siegfried Friday. He is coming out to Riverside 
for the weekend after next. 

We are exceedingly busy here, and I shan t be able to get up before 
the pth of October. I am glad I did get the glimpse of you last month. 
The autumn must be gorgeous in your little valley. 

Ever yours, 

October 3 
Dear Mr. Lewis: 

Sidney Williams of the Philadelphia Inquirer has asked us for articles 
by some of our authors. He plans to run a series this winter on the subject 
of "Why People Should Own and Read Books." It would be limited to 
about 200 words and run in a box with a cut of the author s portrait. If 
you aren t too busy would you be willing to write such an article for him? 
How about writing me a line or two about what you are doing, your 
plans, etc. I am flooded with questions as to what you will do next and 
what you are writing now. I hear you are going to Toronto soon. Is that 

Please give my best to Mrs. Lewis. 

John D. Chase x 

Barnard, Vermont 
October 15 
Dear Denny: 

No, I won t write 200 words for Sidney Williams. What in the deuce 
could anyone say on such a silly question? Norman Hapgood has taken a 
whole book to answer a far more limited question: Why Janet (or any 
one) should read Shakspere. 2 A good book, but it won t influence the 
Janets, I am afraid. Tell Mr. Williams to run the Borzoi ads, and tell the 
public that one should read books because the Russian aristocracy do or 
carry em anyhow. 

I am beginning a novel with American labor as the scene, but inas 
much as the thing looks enormous and the task so vast as to be discour 
aging, I may never finish it, so let s not say anything about it. I am going 

1 Chase was then publicity director of Harcourt, Brace. 

2 Why Janet Should Read Shakespere, Century, 1929. 


to Toronto and I went to the Marion cotton mills, but two trips don t 
make this novel 

If the world yearns for news, tell it I am staying in these Vermont 
hills until the snow drives me out by threatening to barricade me in, I am 
writing short stories-or have been-just to keep my hand in until I get up 
energy to begin this new novel. I am reading innumerable books on the 
labor movement in the United States, in between visiting the local rotary 
clubs-because I want to know Vermont, the first place I have ever had a 
real home in. I am also overseeing my wife overseeing the gardener plant 



Get acquainted with Fred Rothermell, whose jth Ave. you are to publish 
& who goes to N.Y. to see the firm tomorrow. 

October 25 
Dear Mr. Lewis: 

Thanks for your note. We re always glad to have any news about 
you that we can use. Every now and then I get a request for an article 
from you. Do you want me to refuse these for you or send them along to 
you? Here is another 

In getting up a free lance feature article on the question as to whether the 
successful business man can retire before old age or ill health forces it, and 
work out a satisfactory existence, I would like a comment from Sinclair Lewis. 
As the author of Dodsivorth he certainly is, of course, one of the profound 
observers of the retired business man here and in Europe. 

In Mr. Lewis opinion, would Dodsworth, having felt restkss before 
retirement, be apt to have developed and found himself in his old routine and 
tracks? What would have been the effect of keeping in harness, after it seemed 
irksome and empty? Would not his friendship and tastes, the pattern of his 
life have remained more fixed and satisfactory? What effect on his marriage? 
Likely to remain intact although empty? 

This article is to be written for the New York World or the Sunday 
Magazine Section of the Herald Tribune. If these things are merely a 
nuisance send me a blanket refusal and we ll be hardboiled. 

John D. Chase 

[1929] 283 

Barnard, Vermont 
October 26 
Dear Denny: 

If anybody wants an article from me and wants to pay 75 cents a 
word, I may, and may not, be interested. But, being a professional writer 
who has to earn his living thus, one of the things I most ain t interested in 
is writing other people s articles for them. If the gentleman wants to know 
Mr. Lewis s opinion about what Mr. Dodsworth would do, he might read 
the book. Yes, please be hardboiled with all these requests. 

It s gorgeous here now, even though most of the leaves are gone. 
There s a spaciousness about the hills that s somehow exciting. I m going 
to stay on for another week or ten days. 


Barnard, Vermont 
October 26 
Dear Alf : 

I think the royalty statement sent out October 25th is in error about 
Dodsworth I haven t the Dodsworth contract here it is in New York 
but as I remember it, on this contract we did not have the former arrange 
ment of 10% to 50,000. If so, there should be another $6250 on my 

Your seeing Fred Rothermell and his getting acquainted with Ray 
mond and Helen Everitt x have been fine for him. It starts him going at 
an accelerated pace. I think you ll have something superb there, with 
another two or three years of training. 

Have you been able to start anything about the Dodsworth movie? 
I hope not to have to do a bit of hackwriting next year. After seeing the 
Marion strike, and spending a few days at the American Federation of 
Labor convention, I m keener about this novel than anything since Arrow- 
smith* And at the A F of L convention I met exactly the right man for 
the De Kruif-Birkhead of my novel Carl Haessler of the Federated Press; 
college man, Rhodes scholar at Oxford, imprisoned as conscientious obj 
during the war, ever since up to his ears in the labor movement; sense of 
humor; delightful to work with; eager to do the job. He is to join me 
here, and we ll go snooping about the country together. 

Dorothy had to start out lecturing three days ago, but the snow has 
not come yet, and I m going to stay here (with the Rothermells, who are 

1 C. R. Everitt was an editor at Harcourt, Brace. 


to have the house for the winter, and with Carl and a temporary cook) 
until the roads get bad, making plans for the novel so that we won t waste 
motion when we start out. I hope to have the novel (which will be longer 
than the new edition of the Encyc Britannica) finished a year from now, 
ready for publication (naturally, as The Big Book of the Season) in early 
spring 1931 just when labor is busting loose again and raising hell. 

Shouldn t Cape be making a report on Dodsworth sales in England? 
There doesn t seem to be any on the royalty statement. 

I wish you could slip up here for a few days it s even more restful 
than in summer. But probably about the time you hit the Vermont 
border, you d be riding into a blizzard! 


October 29 
Dear Red: 

I have yours of the 2 6th. The royalty statement on Dodsworth is 
right. I am afraid you have it confused with Neighbor. I enclose a sum 
mary of advertising through September. Of course, you can have the 
details for each month if you want them. We just have Cape s royalty re 
port for sales last spring, too late, of course, to get into this account. The 
earnings on your books are ^954- 

I m delighted that you re settling down to the new novel and that 
you re staying in Vermont doing the ground work. It sounds fine about 
Carl Haessler. 

We had a good session with Rothermell. That s going to be all to the 

I can t get a smell of interest in a Dodsworth movie, although I have 
put out feelers in a number of directions. I am hoping to see Laurence 
Stallings before the first of the year, and maybe I can work it round that 

Ever yours, 

Barnard, Vermont 
Nov. 5 
Dear Don: 

Sorry to have to bother you with making the investments for me the 
other day but otherwise I would never have got in on the bargain stocks 
as I hope they will prove to be! 

[1929] 285 

I ll be here about two more days, and arrive in NY about the i5th, 
with Boston and Rhode Island for about a week in between. 


The Lewises spent part of the winter in New York, at their apartment at 
37 West Tenth Street. In January they headed for California, stopping off 
at Reno, where Lewis successfully petitioned for a more equitable method 
of paying the agreed alimony to his former wife. 

February 6 
Dear Red: 

I am just back from a grand fishing trip in Florida, and Melville tells 
me the news of the outcome of the Nevada business. I hope you and 
Dorothy are both fine and getting along comfortably with your mutual 

This note is to say that if you find yourself in or near Hollywood, 
Vina Delmar is in Beverly Hills. She is quite a person. She d like to meet 
you, and I think you d enjoy each other. 

Ever yours, 

Monterey, Calif. 
Feb. 15 
Dear Alf: 

I m glad you had a good fishing-trip in Florida, but that state is a 
blinking swamp compared with this one-and-only earthly edition of para 
dise. I re-realize that, showing California to Dorothy, who had never been 
farther west than Kansas City. 

The ordeal in Reno was considerable; I was on the witness stand 
through morning, afternoon, and evening. But I had an admirable lawyer, 
and the Judge was at once just and sympathetic. 

We ve taken a house here in Monterey for two months, during 
which I expect to have the labor novel pretty clearly formed in rny mind. 
It s a charming old Spanish house with a walled garden, in which we sit, 
among spring flowers, while you have the joys of rain and snow and fog. 
Dorothy feels fine and is taking it easy. 

I ll put Vina Delmar s address in my address book, and if we get to 
Hollywoodwhich is by no means certain we ll shout for her. Ida Brace 


called up yesterday from San Francisco. She may come down here, and 
if she does, we ll hope to have some good parties. 


Dear Alf : I ve turned patriot and am rooting in the best Californiac man 
ner. Feeling grand. DT 

February 20 
Dear Red: 

Grand to have your note of the i5th from Monterey! Melville had 
told me about the Reno modification. It s too bad to have had the worry. 

You ll like Monterey. I think the curve of the bay and the ride over 
the hill to Carmel are quite lovely. Good golf course, too, if you want to 
start that. I suppose you know Lincoln Steffens? He is just finishing his 
autobiography x for us, and his wife, Ella Winter, is a great girl 

I am glad the plan for the labor novel is rounding out. I can imagine 
a little how you hate to take the plunge into the deep water of such a job 
as that, but I guess you can t help itand that s fine. It needn t be too 
damned all-inclusive. 

Love to you both! 

Ever yours, 

Monterey, Calif. 
February 24 
Dear Alf: 

We like Monterey a lot find it better to live in than Carmel, because 
the latter is so arty, and when we want the sea, it s only a few minutes 
over by motor. (I bought a second-hand car in San Francisco, and when 
we get ready to leave, we ll sell it, possibly driving as far as Los Angeles 
first.) We have a small but comfortable old house, with a beautiful gar 
den, into which I wander a dozen times a day. It s like June here, now, 
and has been ever since we got here with snow and below zero in NY. 

We ve seen Steffens and Ella Winter a number of times had them 
here for dinner a few nights ago. But the people we see most of are 
Gouverneur and Mrs. Morris. He s a corker. I m trying to get him to 
think of doing as only he and Edith Wharton could a sort of Forsyte 
Saga of American High Society, from the simple Bar Harbor days of 

1 The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens, 1931. 

[1930] 287 

cutunder buggies and the polka, to these days of gin and racing cars with 
the names dominating American society in 1 890 almost entirely replaced 
by new ones. He could do it, too, though most of his life he has written 
only rather light stories. But he knows, and he can write. If I persuade 
him, I may get us a first look at it, without binding either side. 

Ask Paul if he has been looking into this Coffey-Humber cancer cure 
stuff. It sounds important to me. Might repay him to make a trip out here 
to look into it. And he would see the Jacques Loeb Marine Laboratory 
here. I wish he d come. 

Anything stirring on Fifth Avenue (Fred Rothermeirs book, not that 
horrible thoroughfare) and any news of his new novel? He could prob 
ably use another $250 advance most handsomely by about now I know 
he had just enough to scrape through till spring. 


Ever have a chance to talk to Stallings about a Dodsworth movie-or play 
and movie? 

March i 
Dear Red: 

I get a good deal of pleasure out of the comfort and fun you both 
seem to be having in Monterey. What you say about Gouverneur Morris 
is really interesting. He certainly can write and if he would do a Forsyte 
Saga of American High Society, it might be a grand book. It might even 
be non-fiction if you and he could think of some theme to hold the 
material. The idea interests me a good deal. Do try to get it earmarked 
for us. 

Paul and Rhea are fine, but he is headed for Europe this summer, 
leaving about the first of May for five or six months, to look into several 
matters there which will be grist for his articles as well as for the next 

Fifth Avenue hasn t shown any real signs of life. I have never seen 
the fiction market so congested or the trade book business so poor, aside 
from a few titles. Alec Grosset told me last night that their January bus 
iness was only a little more than half of what it was a year ago. The stores 
were left with a great lot of undigested stock the first of the year, and 
the whole trade seems to be selling plugs and overstock. It will take all 
spring for things to straighten out. You re lucky not to have a new book 
ready just now. I haven t seen Stallings in almost a year. Helen * is in New 

1 Stallings s wife. 


York just now and is going to have lunch with me next week. Laurence 
is still in Hollywood and will be, I think, until about the first of April. 

Ever yours, 

Monterey, Calif. 
March iz 
Dear Alf: 

I doubt if Gouverneur Morris will ever really settle down and do the 
Amerif orsyte book. He thinks of it, but he says he would need a complete 
free year and as I imagine he spends 50,000 a year, there would be no 
question of an advance being of any significance in this case. 

You didn t say whether you had been moved to send Fred Rothermell 
a voluntary $250 advance. I imagine it would mean more to them now 
than a thousand at any time later. I d be glad to send it to them, but they 
won t take it too prouda fine and too rare quality in a young author. 
I hear from him that he has completed the astronomer novel. Has he sent 
it in? 

I ve seen McNamara, Mooney, and Schmitt in San Quentin Dorothy 
and I went to San Francisco for a weekand had a good talk with them. 
If one % of people out of prison were as fine and interesting as they, life 
would be more worth while. 


The Lewises returned to New York during April, and after a brief stay at 
their Tenth Street apartment, went up to Twin Farms. Mrs. Lewis, who 
was expecting a child) returned to New York early in May to be near her 
doctor, Lewis stayed on in Vermont until the end of May. 

May 19 
Dear Red: 

I have a note from Will White about a novel I sent him, in which 
he says: "Remember me affectionately to Red Lewis, who is the best 
all-around, single-handed, catch-as-catch-can, no-holds-barred, Greeco- 
Roman writing man that the American Continent has produced, willing 
to meet all comers. Elmer Gantry fouled him but he knocked out all the 
rest, God bless him." 

Ever yours, 

[1930] 289 

37 West loth Street, 
New York, June 14 
Dear J.E.S.: 

Thank you for the memorandum. I enclose my answer to the Grande 



New York, June 13 
M. Georges Roth 
Paris iyme 
Dear Sir: 

In answering the questionnaire submitted by you on behalf of La 
Grande Revue, I am afraid that I cannot commit myself to any cult of 
letters or school of literary aesthetics, whether it call itself "populism," 
"humanism" (a movement which has achieved a certain popularity, re 
cently, in America, and which appears to be in some ways the antithesis 
of the tendency which you represent), or anti-humanism because the 
opponents of humanism threaten, also, to become a cult. It is my convic 
tion that art fulfills itself in many ways "lest one good custom should 
corrupt the world." 

The fact that in my own work I have perhaps, up until now, met 
with the populist demand to concentrate on depicting the popular classes 
of the nation, in terms, largely, of behavior, does not encourage me to 
elevate my own interests, or way of looking at life, into a rule for all 
novelists. I could not, for instance, write like Mr. Aldous Huxley, nor of 
Mr. Huxley s characters, but I find that Point Counterpoint is an admir 
able novel. And although I am inclined to think, with you, that contem 
porary novelists have become excessive in psychological analysis, some 
times to the sacrifice of all form, I bow my head to Mr. Joyce in his 
greater moments, and am deeply grateful for the work of Virginia Woolf . 

Nor do I think that the peculiar preoccupations of many of our 
younger writers are due to any conscious literary movement, but are 
rather symptomatic of the times in which we live, and will change with 
the times. I do not believe that literary movements are made by organized 
will, by literary cliques, but are made by life itself, and by men of genius. 

Certainly the world is flooded at present with bad novels, but I am 
inclined to blame for this, not the choice of material with which the 
authors deal, nor their departure from accepted artistic forms, but rather 
democracy which has made the masses articulate and the plethora of pub- 


lishers who encourage everyone, including the ungifted and unillumined, 
to express himself. 

Sincerely yours, 
Sinclair Lewis 

Following the birth of their son Michael in New York the end of June, 
the Lewises returned to Twin Farms. The correspondence that ensued 
dealt mainly with translation rights of Lewis s work. 

August i 
Dear Red: 

You never sent me your suggestions for editors for a five shilling 
edition of your novels. If you want us to go ahead with this, I wish you 
would let me have your suggestions because we might as well try first to 
get just the people you would prefer. 

What do you think of the current gyrations in publishing George 
Doran going to Hearst and Liveright going to Hollywood? I suppose 
more significant than either of these is Baker and Taylor s statement to 
Gus yesterday afternoon that this July s business was the worst in their 
experience. I am happy to say that our textbook department took up the 
slack. Of course things are apt to look worst just before they begin to get 
better. There may be nothing to the general impression that business will 
improve in the autumn. If it doesn t, I have a notion we may be in for at 
least two lean years. If so, we should perhaps wait until conditions are 
definitely better to do the five shilling edition. 

I think the whole situation will be clear by a year from now, and if 
there were a new novel from you for a year from this autumn, it would 
pretty surely be "the good five cent cigar the country needs." 

Ever yours, 

So. Pomfret, Vt. 
August 6 

First, about the possible introductions to the library set of my books. 
I am enclosing an elaborate list of possibilities. If and when we decide to 
do this, I think Dorothy would be an admirable person to handle the 
approach to these people-especially the Germans, French and English, 
and if she handled these, she d have to handle the Americans too, to avoid 
crossed wires. I don t suppose the set would be published before autumn 
1931, so there is no hurry. If you decide on it, let her knowshe s keen 

[1930] 291 

to do it and let her know how much you would be willing to pay these 

Second, after months of thinking, it seems to me more important to 
make this a really fine edition say $3.00 or $3.50 a volume, or even more 
-rather than a five shilling edition like Jonathan s. The cheap edition can, 
however, come later, if this goes over. In the first place, people who want 
to pay only $1.25 will get these in the Grosset and Dunlap edition or 
secondhand. Second, the people who are really interested in sets, in mak 
ing and preserving a library, are most of them willing to pay enough to 
get fine books on paper that will last. Third, with such an edition, we 
need be in no hurry selling it take five years if necessary, perhaps adding 
a volume or two and in the end get the money back with a good profit 
AND have the prestige. 

About the Russian business: Herewith carbon of a letter I am sending 
to the Gosizdat State Publishing House. 

It s been consistently cool up here while youVe had such hellish 
weather, and all of us feel splendid. 



South Pomfret, Vermont 
August 7 

To the State Publishing House 
Moscow, U.S.S.R. 
Dear Sirs: 

Months ago I received the enclosed letter from you, suggesting that 
with my next novel, I send you advance proofs so that you could publish 
it simultaneously with America. But as you will see by the letter itself, 
the signature and part of the letter had been torn off before I received it 
whether by accident or by some postoffice censor I do not know. I have 
been waiting, expecting another letter, but as it has not come, I shall 
answer as best I can, and hope that this letter will be delivered to the 
proper official. 

The Gosizdat is in error in understanding that I am writing about the 
class-struggle of California textile workers. In the first place, there are no 
textile workers in California; in the second place I am not writing about 
either California or textile workers. As a matter of fact I do not know just 
exactly what I shall next write about. But when I do finish my next novel, 
I shall be glad to have my publishers send you proofs well in advance of 
our publication here, and I understand that I shall then be paid royalties. 


But meantime, I wish to inquire about royalties on the many books of 
mine which you have already published. When I was in Moscow in the 
autumn of 1927, 1 received word from the Gosizdat that you would be 
glad to pay royalties on these books. I also, without success, tried to ar 
range a non-official convention between the Gosizdat and the American 
publishers whereby Russian authors would receive royalties for their 
books published in America. I have heard nothing more of either of these 
projects. As I said, I should be glad to send you advance copies of not 
only my next but all future novels, but in the meantime, I should be glad 
to receive royalties on the already published novels which are, as I under 
stand it, not classed in Russia as bourgeois novels but as more or less 
revolutionary in their final eff ect. 

Yours sincerely, 
Sinclair Lewis 


How roughly does my royalty account stand now? Have I anything 
coming? What happened to Liveright & Doran? 


August n 
Dear Red: 

Thanks for your letter of August 6th. Credit in your royalty account 
to June 30th is $866,00. 

There are lots of rumors about George Doran. I think the truth of 
the matter is that he and Nelson Doubleday couldn t get along together, 
so Nelson broke the arrangement. I guess Liveright s business is in a pre 
carious condition. It was on the verge of being sold to Coward-McCann, 
but that fell through. There are all sorts of negotiations and rumors going 
on about it. Liveright is going, or has just gone, to Hollywood to work 
for Paramount-Publix. 

Don t quote me as authority for this diagnosis. I think it is pretty 
nearly the truth. I know it is true that four or five other publishing houses 
would welcome being merged or bought. Our trade business is very slack, 
but the textbook business is going along beautifully. 


[1930] 293 

Barnard, Vermont 

Dear Alf : 

I don t think very much of most of my short stories. Hence, while it 
might be all right to have them published in France after they ve had not 
one but several of my novels, I think that now, as introduction, they d be 
bad. The same applies to our publishing here a volume of short stories. 
The critics laying for me would have too good a chance. But I do think 
that when we do the set, we might have one volume of short stories in it 
to give variety & interest. 

I also have your letter of Aug. n, about $866 on hand. I may grab 
this off you to help meet Sept. % of income tax, but I m not sure. 


August 19 
Dear Red: 

Don is just back from a holiday and I have waited for his return to 
discuss yours of the sixth about a collected edition and possible editors. 
Before we get into that, I note what you say about publishing your short 
stories. I haven t read any of them in a long time. There are two or three 
I remember vividly, but maybe there are not enough top-notchers to 
make a book. 

We can t see a library set of your books nowthat is, at $3.00 or 
$3.50 a volume. I was talking with Alfred Knopf a few days ago, and he 
said he d come to the conclusion that modern life has in a way spoiled the 
best part of the publishers or authors market; that the really bookish 
people who used to buy collected editions of standard works have their 
houses full of them; that as he went round and saw such people, not only 
were the bookcases full, but the tables and the book racks in the guest 
rooms and the whole place. We were talking, as a matter of fact, about 
starting a campaign to get people to weed out inconsequential books and 
send them to libraries and such. If you take that situation in a time when 
people feel poor, it would be almost impossible either to get the book 
sellers to stock or the public to buy a handsome edition. We couldn t ask 
$3.00 or $3.50 for a book printed from the original plates, even with an 

About what we call for the sake of definition the $1.25 set to be 
printed on good thinner paper and bound nicely, looking a good deal like 
the Cape edition but with introductions, we are ready to do that when 
ever you are ready. I suppose it would be a bad time to try it just now, 


but business certainly ought to be better by the time we could get the 
books ready. 

If Dorothy will handle getting the introductions, that will be fine. 
She would be good at it from every point of view. We d be glad to pay 
her $50 a volume for getting the introductions, and the fee for the intro 
duction itself ought to run from $100 to ^50. 

Will you consider all this and let me know what you think? 


Barnard, Vermont 
Aug. 21 
Dear Don: 

Alf writes me that I have a balance mit you of about f 866. Will you 
please deposit this to my account at the Guaranty Trust & let me know? 
God will bless you. 

Dorothy & Mike (and the father) are corking. Is there any chance 
that Ida & you will be motoring this way before October ist? Then we 
go off to Yurrop. 


Barnard, Vermont 
Dear Alf: 

Dorothy or I will write you about the set in a day or two all rite, 
$1.25 edition, not $3 publish, I slid think, fall of 1931, with maybe novel 
spring 1932. Re short stories, see 2 of the best I ve ever written "Noble 
Experiment" in August & "Bongo" in September Cosmopolitan. I really 
think we mite do a volume of these in the set. 
Come on up here! It s lovely now* 


September 6 
Dear Red: 

We have received a report and check from Ernst Rowohlt Their 
remittance of 14,375.65 Marks comes to $3417.09. Your share of this re- 

[1930] 295 

mittance is 13103.12. We are depositing this amount to your account at 
the Guaranty today. 

Ever yours, 

Barnard Vt Sep 9 
Telegram to 

Donald Brace 

New York 

Has Rowohlt check for three thousand been deposited yet. Please wire as 

I wish to draw against it. 

Sinclair Lewis 

September 22 
Dear Red: 

The following is a translation of a cablegram we have just received 
from Rowohlt: 

We request you to withdraw by cable the posted check. Charge any 
expense to our account. We are cabling you September 25th 5000, September 
ipth 5000 and balance on October first. Settlement in this form unfortunately 
required on account of non-receipt of substantial amounts because of economic 
and political condition. 

Don and I have decided that we have no choice but to do as he requests, 
as there is no advantage in having his check thrown back on our bank and 
he promises to cable the money. Since Dorothy is going abroad, perhaps 
she can straighten this thing out. We could both give her power of 
attorney to act for us in regard to your German rights. 

Ever yours, 

September 26 
Dear Alf: 

I m disturbed about Rowohlt s capers though probably there is a 
little something on his side in that general financial conditions seem to be 
very bad in Germany just now. I think your idea of having Dorothy look 
into the whole matter, with power of attorney from both of us, is excel 
lent. It may be that she will find out that Rowohlt is doing as well as the 
rest. Has the cable of the 25th, with 5000 M. come in yet? Needless to 


say, if you get stuck on this I ll pay back to you all you paid me as my 
share, but give me a few weeks on this, as otherwise I ll have to sell some 


Us Vermont farmers certainly have our troubles, don t we. Why 
don t we go into authorship which is, I am informed, a trade singularly 
free of all financial and other complications-authors think not about taxes 
but only about cloudlets, adultery, rose-buds, the laughing hands of Little 
Ones. Do you know of a good school for learning authorship? 


Barnard, Vermont 
October 10 

Dear Alf : 

Dorothy and I sneaked off for three days to Montreal and had a 
bottle of champagne and a black duck. Dorothy won t be going to Ger 
many till about January ist. She ll go down to Westport (I think I ve 
written you that we take F.P.A. s house for the winter) next Tuesday- 
October 1 4th; but Fll stay here a week or ten days longer to get the house 

closed up. 


On November fifth the news broke that Lewis was awarded the Nobel 
Prize. He was at Westport when he received the announcement and he 
came down immediately to the office where reporters and newsreel people 
were present at a public interview. 

Lewis s statement to the press: 

I feel the highest honor and gratification at being the first American 
to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, and I am accepting it with 
pleasure, Until this morning, when the press associations telephoned to 
me, I had no notion even that I was being considered. In the few hours 
since then, I have several times been asked two questions by telephone* 
The first is what I intend to do with the prize. My answer is that I shall 
use it to support a well-known young American author and his family, 
and to enable him to continue writing. The second question regards my 
refusal of the Pulitzer Prize in 1926 and acceptance of the Nobel Prize in 

I93 * - ^u 

The reason is the enormous difference between the two prizes. The 

[1930] 297 

Nobel Prize is an international prize with no strings tied. It is awarded on 
the basis of excellence of work. In the terms of the will of Mr. Nobel, the 
prize was to be awarded for "the most distinguished work of an idealistic 
tendency," which has come to be interpreted by the Swedish Academy, 
which has the award of the prize, as merely meaning that such work shall 
not be simply a commercial and machine-like production reaching vast 
popularity. The Pulitzer Prize, on the other hand, is cramped by the pro 
vision of Mr. Pulitzer s will that the prize shall be given "f or the American 
novel published during the year which shall best present the wholesome 
atmosphere of American life, and the highest standard of American man 
ners and manhood." This suggests not actual literary merit, but an obedi 
ence to whatever code of good form may chance to be popular at the 
moment. As a result of this, the Pulitzer Prize has been given to some 
merely mediocre novels along with other admirable novels. It is sufficient 
criticism of the prize to say that in the last few years it has not been 
awarded to CabelPs Jurgen, Dreiser s An American Tragedy, Heming 
way s A Farewell to Arms, Wolfe s Look Homeward, Angel, or Cather s 
A Lost Lady, 

Another trouble with the Pulitzer Prize is that whereas the winner of 
the Nobel Prize is chosen on the basis of his entire work up to the time of 
the award, the Pulitzer Prize is supposed to be given for the best novel 
appearing during a single year. Consequently in one year the committee 
may have to choose between four or five first-rate novels, and the next 
year between four or five third-rate novels. I am bringing in this matter 
of the Pulitzer Prize only because I am being asked regarding it. Were it 
possible, I should say nothing whatever except that I am extremely proud 
to have been awarded the Nobel Prize. 

November 5 

His Excellency Wollmann F. Bostrom 
Swedish Embassy 
Washington D C 

I have great honor and pleasure in accepting the Nobel Prize in Literature 
and I shall be happy to go to Stockholm to receive the prize on December 
tenth. Will you please express to the Swedish Academy my profound 


Sinclair Lewis 

There was division of feeling when the Nobel award was announced, 
especially as it was the -first time the Literature prize had been given to an 
American writer. Lewis was feted on the one hand and criticized on the 


other. He and Mrs. Lewis sailed for Stockholm on the Drottningholm late 
in November. 

Radio from SS Drottningholm Dec 5 
New York 
Please mail advertisements Grand Hotel Stockholm 


Cable from Stockholm Dec 10 
New York 

Have you arranged for publication full text my address Nobel Committee 
next Friday. If so where when. Otherwise please try get Sunday sections 
Times or Herald Tribune. Speech as it will be reported press certain cause 
repercussions and very important exact text appears somewhere America. 
About four thousand words. Wire me Grand Hotel where send. 

Sinclair Lewis 

December 10 
Cable to 
Sinclair Lewis 
Grand Hotel 

Times wants full text. Is cabling you direct. Mail me copy. We are 
proudly thinking of you. 


December 13 
Cable to 
Sinclair Lewis 
Grand Hotel 

Warmest congratulations splendid speech. One column first page Times 
full text page twelve. 


Lewis, always a controversial figure, contimied the tradition in his accept 
ance speech, the New York Times headlining it, ^Sinclair Lewis hits old 

[1930] 299 

school writers, champions new." He denounced academicism md lauded 
the work of Theodore Dreiser, Sherwood Anderson, Eugene O Neill, and 
Willa Gather, my one of whom he felt could have been chosen. The artist 
was isolated and creative work belittled in the United States, he said, while 
universities still lived in the dead past. 


c/o Guaranty Trust Co., 
January 21 
Dear Alfred: 

I am actually writing this in Berlin, but as I shall go to London in a 
week, to remain there for two months, possibly, I give the address above. 

Thank you (at this rather late date, which is the first on which I have 
had time to write letters) for your prompt attention to the Stockholm 
speech, and for your cable. 

Stockholm went off very well. It was, of course, an ordeal, but the 
members of the Academy and Mr. Laurin did everything to make our 
stay pleasant and to protect us from whatever public events were not 
absolutely necessary. Naturally our trip was somewhat depressed by 
Dorothy s illness, 

Her condition was evidently one which has been developing for some 
time, and her terrific seasickness on the voyage over, the attack of high 
fever in Stockholm, which kept her in bed during more than half of our 
stay there, these were really preliminary to the sudden attack of appendi 
citis which resulted in the operation entirely successful in Berlin. The 
result has been that I have spent about half my time since I left America 
by her bedside; and we have just returned here from ten days of living 
remote from the world of telephones and interviewers, in the wooded 
Thuringian mountains. 

This enforced quiet has given me a chance to think, coolly and ob 
jectively, about matters which have been bothering me for a long time. 
I would have spoken to you about them before we left America, but the 
opportunities for undisturbed discussion were so few and so brief and, 
perhaps more important, my own mind wasn t then fully made up. 

It comes down to this. I have the impression, and the impression is 
backed up by too many facts to be merely fanciful, that the firm of Har- 
court, Brace and Co., and you personally, feel that they have just about 
done their duty by Sinclair Lewis. And I feel that I have just about done 
my duty by Harcourt, Brace and Co. I am sure that you have for some 
time known how I feel My outburst to you at lunch at my flat last spring 


was a sign of it. If I hadn t felt so tied to the firm, by the fact that we all 
began our careers together, I would have been more definite then, though 
also, probably, more polite. 

My feeling of that time has greatly increased in the last months, and 
especially since the award of the Nobel Prize. To put it brutally, I feel 
that the firm let me down, let my books down, in regard to the prize 
award. It seems to me that you failed to revive the sale of my books as 
you might have and that, aside from this commercial aspect, you let me 
down as an author by not getting over to the people of the United States 
the way in which the rest of the world greeted the award. It would have 
meant the expenditure of considerable money on your part to have done 
this, but never in history has an American publisher had such a chance. 

I think, to take only one example, that it is unfortunate that you 
should have permitted the readers of Heywood Broun s column to suppose 
that his supercilious words on the subject were representative. You have 
had in your hands, or you could have procured, material from the whole 
world: Arnold Zweig s brilliant essay, for instance, spoken on the radio 
in Berlin and then published in the German Literatur; the comment of 
L Europe Nouvelle in France; essays in Das Tagebuch in Germany; Dr. 
Karlfeldt s analysis of my work before the huge and distinguished crowd 
at the formal prize giving, with all the royalty there; and many others in 
a dozen countries. You might, by advertising, have counteracted such 
editorials as the one in the New York Times. A few cables abroad would 
have placed all this material at your disposal. 

Just before I sailed, in the few minutes conversation at our house, 
I turned over to you the interesting and important Swedish and German 
clippings which I already had, and you agreed (or so I understood it) to 
place some full-page advertisements simultaneously with the actual giving 
of the prize in Stockholm. As far as I have been able to discover, you have 
done absolutely nothing with this. And when in the January number of 
the American Mercury you do mention me and the prize by a curt notice 
down in a corner, it is as though the prize were a useful comment by a 
third-rate critic. 

In Europe, Dodsworth and several of the other novels have had an 
enormous stimulation by reason of the prize. Even in the tiny village of 
Oberhof, in the Thuringian forest, from which we have just returned, in 
the one little bookstore there were postersyes, plural about me and a 
lot of copies of Dods*worth and Babbitt. All over Europe the award was 
used as a basis for Christmas advertising: "The book to give for Christmas 
this year is the latest novel by this year s Nobel Prize winner," 

It comes down to this: If you haven t used this opportunity to push 

[1931] 301 

my books energetically and to support my prestige intelligently, you 
never will do so, because I can never give you again such a moment. 

There are all sorts of other things that have distressed me. At lunch, 
just after the award, you said that you would immediately reprint and 
advertise another edition of all my books, uniform but without intro 
ductions. 1 If you have done so, I have seen no signs of it. The Grosset and 
Dunlap editions, burying my books among those of Zane Grey and Gene 
Stratton Porter and paying me only five cents a copy, have reaped what 
ever reward there was in the prize. 

But there s no good going over all these matters. I m sure you will 
agree with me that the most important thing in any business relationship 
is mutual confidence. I think that element no longer exists with uson 
either side. And for me this lack of confidence is most important, because 
it is keeping me from starting work on a new novel. I haven t made this 
decision under the influence of any other publisher whatever. I have had 
offers, but I have refused even to consider them. 

Our parting is complicated by many things, one of the most impor 
tant of which is that you have a contract for my next book unnamed. 
But I recall having heard you say many times that you would never try 
to hold an author who did not wish to be held. Also, this contract I volun 
teered to make, at the time when Harrison Smith left you, 2 and I did it to 
protect you and the firm from the many rumors that I was leaving you 
and going with him. I am asking you to be as generous as I was then, and 
to send me back the contract, cancelled. 

Please believe me that it has cost me weeks of thinking and worry to 
plan and write this letter. If we had not gone through so much together, 
I would have written it long ago. Actually, I suspect that my decision 
may be a relief to you, and that in parting we may become better friends. 

I would be grateful to you if you would reply immediately. 

Sincerely yours, 
Sinclair Le<wis 

February 3 

Dear Red: 

I have your letter of January 2ist. Of course we don t want to hold 
your next novel by the semi-compulsion of a contract. Here is the agree 
ment for the "next book" and also the one for Neighbor, which I include 

1 The Nobel Prize edition of all of Lewis s books was published one week after 
Lewis wrote this letter. . 

2 Smith left Harcourt, Brace the end of 1928 to found his own firm, Harrison 
Smith and Jonathan Cape Ltd. 


so that your title will be completely clear. I ve endorsed them "cancelled 
by mutual consent." If you will acknowledge their receipt and confirm 
their cancellation, this will clear the record until you find it convenient 
to return your copies with a similar endorsement 

I know you have some idea of how sorry I am that events have taken 
this turn. You and we have been so closely associated in our youth and 
growth that I wish we might have gone the rest of the way together. 
If I ve lost an author, you haven t lost either a friend or a devoted reader. 



Adams, Franklin P., 35 

Adams, Henry, 109 

Addams, Jane, 57 

Adler, Alfred, 168 

Aley, Maxwell, 72 

Allen, Frank Waller, 58 

American Play Company, The, 60, 90-91 

Anderson, Sherwood, 32, 48, 214, 299 

Angell, Norman, 75 

Archer, William, 94 

Arliss, George, 187 

Arrhenius, S. A., 168 

Ashford, Daisy, 46 fn. 

Astor, Lady, 131 

Astor, Lord, 131 

Atherton, Gertrude, 194-195 

Aumonier, Stacy, 135 

Austin, Mary, 56, 84, 193 

Avery, Sid, 67 

Ayres, Ruby, 74 

Babbitt, B. T., 105 \ 

Babbitt, George F., 105, 106-107/138 J 

Bacon, Peggy, 272, 273 VJX 

Baldoroldcn, Dr., 102 

Barrie, J. M., 46 fn. 

Barrows, Ellen, 176 

Beard, Mary, 98 

Beaverbroofc, Lord, 131, 135 

Bechhofer, C. E., 140 

Belloc, Hilaire, i54fn. 

Belloc, Hilary, 154 

Benchley, Robert, 37, 42, 162 

Benet, William Rose, 35, 92, 138 

Bennett, Arnold, 43, 148, 151, 182, 238 

Berlin, Irving, 5 f n. 

Bierce, Ambrose, 194, 195 

Birkhead, Rev. L. M., 206, 211, 217, 238 

Bjorkman, Edwin, 59 

Blackman, Rev. Earl, 217, 232, 233, 234, 

236, 238 

Blackwood, Algernon, 88 
Block, Ralph, 153, 155, 161 
Bok, Edward, 271 
Booth, Franklin, 30 
Bordet, Jules, 168 
Bostrom, Wollmann F., 297 
Boswell, James, 276 
Boyd, Ernest, 182 
Brady, William A., 262 fn. 
Brailsford, H. N., 74 
Brandes, Georg, 168 
Brandt, Carl, 7, 8 
Bristol, E. N., 4, 6 
Brody, Mrs., 188 
Bromfield, Louis, 270 
Brooks, Van Wyck, 35 
Broun, Heywood, 25, 28, 35, 36, 37, 39, 

182, 184, 219, 300 
Brown, Arthur William, 8 
Brown, C. B., 202 
Brown, Curtis, 132, 148 
Brown, Sir George McClaren, 151 
Bryant, Louise, 8, 170 
Buchan, John, 130 
Bullard, Arthur, 38, 41 
Bullitt, William G, 237 
Butcher, Fanny, 266, 271 
Buder, Nicholas Murray, 210 
Byron, Lord, 174 

Cabell, James Branch, 13-14, 23, 25, 37, 

270, 297 

Cabot, Hugh, 195 
Cabot, Richard, 195 
Cadman, Rev. S. Parkes, 225 
Call, Arthur D., 38, 41 


Canby, Henry Seidel, 113, 172, 177, 178, 

188, 266 

Cane, Melville, 89, 250, 251, 254, 256, 257 
Canfield, Dorothy, 12, 24, 127, 185 
Cape, Jonathan, 71,96, 102, 104, 105, no, 

in, 112, 127, 129, 130, 131, 132, 134, 

152, 168, 172, 174, 175, 179, 184, 234, 267, 

271, 273, 274, 284, 291, 293 
Gather, Willa, 214, 297, 299 
Chamberlain, George Agnew, 264 fn. 
Chambers, Robert, 38 
Qemenceau, Georges, 74, 276 
Cleveland, R. M., 202 
Cobb, Irvin, 259 
Cohen, Octavus Roy, 64 
Conrad, Joseph, 43, 88 
Cornwell, Dean, 8 
Cournos, John, 94 
Cowles, Mrs. W. S., no 
Croce, Benedetto, i<58 
Curtiss, Philip, 40, 45 
Curwood, James Oliver, 83 fn. 

Davis, James J., 230 

Dawson, Mrs. N. P., 35, 97 

de Kruif, Paul, 121, 122, 123, 125, 126, 127, 
128, 129, 132, 135, 136, 139, 140, 141* *44, 
145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 157, 160, 
164, 165, 166, 167, 168, 170, 172, 174-175* 

178, 184, 201, 202, 204, 210, 2U, 212, 287 

Dean, Charlotte, 114, 115 

Debs, Eugene, 91, 98, I38fn. 

Dell, Floyd, 35, 39, 44 

Delmar, Vina, 273, 285 

D Herelle, Dr. Felix H., 168 

Disraeli, Benjamin, 109, 174, 179 

Domher, L., 170 

Doran, George H., ix, x, 46, 94, 95, 156, 

290, 292 

Doubleday, Nelson, 292 
Dreiser, Theodore, 214, 297, 299 
Drinkwater, John, 94 
Duncan Sisters, 74 

Ernst, Bernard M. L., 253 
Ervine, St. John, 113 

Famous Players, 7, 8, 153, 155 

Farrar, John, 178 

Fay, Bernard, 243 

Feipel, Louis N., 113, 114, 186-187, 263 

Ferber, Edna, 47 

Feuchtwanger, Lion, 250 

Fishbein, Morris, 178, 195 

Fitch, Clyde, 57 

Fitzgerald, F. Scott, 63 


Flandrau, Charles, 40 

Fletcher, Sir Walter, 131 

Flexner, Abraham, 168 

Foley, District Attorney, 239, 240 

Follett, Wilson, 35, 168 

Ford, Harriet, 60, <5i, 62, 78, 81 

Forman, Henry, 41 

Forster, E. M., xii, 166 

Frederic, Harold, 63 fn. 

Freud, Sigmund, 168 

Galantiere, Lewis, 48 

Gale, Zona, 42, 114 

Galsworthy, John, 43, 47, 48, 49, 50, 56, 

60, 63, 65, 94,1 105, no, 182 
Gardner, Gilson, 28 
Gardner, Mrs. Gilson, 28 
Garland, Hamlin, 203 fn. 
Gaston, Herbert E,, 3, 6 
George, W. L., 41, 43, 71, 74 
Gibbs, Sir Philip, 129, 131 
Gilman, Lawrence, 35 
Glasgow, Ellen, 214 
Goethe, 174 
Goodman, Philip, 172, 173, 175, 176, 178, 

180, 185, 222 
Gosse, Edmund, 43 
Graham, Tom, i68fn. 
Grahame- White, Claude, 74 
Grant, Ulysses S,, 177 
Grasset, Bernard, 174 
Greenslet, Ferris, 130 
Grey, Zanc, 15, 273, 274, 277, 301 
Grosset, Alexander, 242, 275, 276, 287 
Gruening, Ernest, i86fn. 
Gruger, F. R., 8, 12 
Guthrie, Ramon, 236, 238, 239, 243, 244, 

251, 277 

Hackett, Francis, 19, 35, 52 

Haessler, Carl, 283, 284 

Haggard, Sewell, 143, 145, 146, 147, 148, 

149, 153, 154, 155 

Hahner, Marcella Burns, 133, 171, 227 
Haldeman-Julius, E., 205 
Hammond, Percy, 62 
Hamsun, Knut, 61 
Hansen, Harry, 266 
Hanson, Dr. W. G, 216 
Hapgood, Norman, 57, 130, 281 
Hardy, Thomas, 43 
Harkness, Sam, 217 
Harraden, Beatrice, 94 
Harriman, Karl, 144, X45, 146 
Harrison, Oliver, 176 fn,, 177 
Hartman, C Bertram, 136 



Hays, Arthur Gareld, 240 

Hays, Will, 241 

Hemingway, Ernest, 297 

Herbert, Victor, 5 fn. 

Hergesheimer, Joseph, 10, 13, 37 fn., 38, 


Hildebrand, Arthur, 166, 167, 183 
Hirst, F. W., 74 
Ho dder- Williams, Sir Ernest, 71, 74, 75, 

76, 80, 127 
Holt, Guy, 25, 48 
Holt, Roland, 6 
Hood, Fred R., 66, 185 
Hopkins, Arthur, 241 
Hoppe", E. O., 79, 92 
Howard, G. Wren, 132 
Howard, Sidney, 257 
Howe, Frederic Q, 25, 28, 155, 167, 204, 

244, 245 

Howells, William Dean, ix 
Hoyns, Henry, 9, 16, 27, 28 
Hughes, Hatcher, 210 
Hunt, Frazier (Spike), 130, 145, 147, 148, 

153, 175, 178, 179, 211 
Hurst, Fannie, 52 
Hutchinson, A. S. M., 101 
Huxley, Aldous, 289 

International Feature Service, 136 
Isham, Colonel Ralph, 276 fn. 

Jefferson, Thomas, 167 
Jenkins, Burris, 217 
Jenkins, Herbert, 27, 28 
Johnson, Dawson, 92, 174 
Johnson, Owen, 109 
Joyce, James, 168, 289 
Jung, Carl, 168 

Karlfeldt, Erik, 300 

Karstner, David, 98 

Kaufman, George, 130 

Kearney, Patrick, 262 

Kelley, Edith Summers, 75, 87, 128, 130, 

131, 132, 138, 140, 141 
Kelly, George, 210 
Kendall, A. I., 141 
Kennedy, Margaret, 178 
Kerr, Philip, 131 
Key, Ellen, 45 
Keynes, John Maynard, xii, 24, 25, 28, 32, 

84, 99 

Kidd, John, id, 65 
Klaw, Marc, 74 
Knopf, Alfred, 206 
Kochnitzky, Leon, 170 

Korner, Harry, 16 
Kroch, A., 227 
Kyne, Peter B., 158 

LaFollette, Fola, 162 

Laski, Harold, 25, 65, 71, 74, 77 

Leeuwenhoek, Anton van, 141 

Levy, Ethel, 74 

Lewis, Grace Hegger, x, 9, 10, 26, 31, 32, 
33, 36, 56, 71, 78, 79, So, 82, 83, 84, 91, 
93, 100, 101, 105, 106, 108, 109, 113, 114, 
116, 117, 122, 123, 124, 128, 129, 131, 132, 

133, i34 *35> - T 37 *39i 14, *4* H* 
144, 154, 160, 168, 171, 173, 176, 178, 179, 
180, 183, 185, 189, 197, 198, 199, 200, 201, 

202, 204, 207, 209, 2l6, 222, 223, 231, 

237, 243, 249, 251, 252-253, 254, 255-256 

Lewis, Lloyd, 276 

Lewis, Wells, 72,^78, 93, 134, 144, 255, 256 

Lewisohn, Ludwig, 41, 236 

Lincoln, Joseph, 55, 83 fn. 

Lindbergh, Charles A., 242 

Lindsay, Vachel, 57, 58 

Lippmann, Walter, 35 

Liveright, Horace, 91, 94, 98, 186, 206, 

240, 290, 292 
London, Jack, 194, 264 
Long, Ray, 95, 96, 130, 144, 145, 271, 279, 

Lorimer, George Horace, ix, x, 13, 14, 

37, 52, 107-108 

Lovett, Robert Morss, 77, 203, 205 
Loving, Pierre, 230 
Lowndes, Mrs. Belloc, 74 
Ludwig, Emil, 258 
Lynd, Helen Merrell, 270 fn. 
Lynd, Robert S M 270 fn. 

McComas, Mrs. Francis, 38, 41 
Mclntyre, O. O., 35 
McNamara, J. B., 288 
Macaulay, Rose, 57 fn., 75 
Macauley, Ward, 131 
Macdonald, Ramsay, 130, 150 
Mackenzie, Compton, 43, 105 
Mannes, David, 273 fn. 
Mannin, Ethel, 201 
Mansfield, Katherine, 81 
Marbury, Elisabeth, 60, 62 
Margolies, Sam, 63 
Massingham, H. J., 74 
Masters, Edgar Lee, 86 
Matthews, Brander, 210 
Maugham, Somerset, 105 
Maupin, J. C., 217 
Maurice, Arthur Bartlett, 109, 167 


Maurois, Andre, 174, 179 

Mayer, Rabbi H. H., 217 

Mayo, William J., 195 

Meiklejohn, Alexander, 253 

Melcher, Frederic G., 66 

Mellish, Howard, 220 

Mencken, Henry L., 19, 35, 39, 40, 43, 62, 

95, "57. * 6 3 *7> *7 2 > *75, 17^ ZI 4, 

216 fn., 233, 234, 236, 251, 253, 255, 256, 

258, 260, 270 
Merrick, Leonard, 43 
Middleton, George, 162 
Millay, Edna St. Vincent, 88, 89, 91 
Miller, Joaquin, 194, 195 
Millin, Sarah G, 178 
Milton, Robert, 241, 257, 262 
Montgelas, Count, 255 
Mooney, Thomas, 288 
Moore, George, 43, 94 
Moore, Guernsey, 30 
More, Paul Elmer, 100 
Morehouse, Edward, 105 
Morley, Christopher, 35, 169 
Morris, Gouverneur, 195, 196, 197, 286- 

287, 288 
Munro, Wallace, in, 112 

Nathan, George Jean, 2x6 fn., 258 
Negri, Pola, 195, X96-I97, 198, 109 
Nevinson, H. W., 74, 84 
Nicholson, Meredith, 92 
Nicoll, William Robertson, 74, 75 
Nobel, Alfred, 297 
Nobel Prize, ix, xi, 61, 296-301 
Nohowel, Mrs. Frank P., 61 
Nonpartisan League, 3, 6, 26 
Norris, Charles G., 47, 142 

O Brien, E. J., 186 

O Brien, Frederick, 146 

O Higgins, Harvey, 60, 61, 62, 78, 81 fn., 


O Neill, Eugene, 257, 299 
Onions, Oliver, 74 
Oppenheim, E. Phillips, 74 
Osbourne, Lloyd, 129 
Overton, Grant, 182, 238 

Palmer, Loren, 180-181, 183 
Palmieri, Teodoro, 238 
Papini, Giovanni, 133, 136 
Parmelee, Maurice, 131 
Parrington, Vernon Louis, 276 
Pasteur, Louis, 141 
Patti, Adelina, 141 
Pawling, Sydney S., 71 


Phelps, Hansen, 270 

Phelps, William Lyon, 35, 42, 46 

Piccoli, Rafaello, 89, 90 

Pinker, James B., 71 

Porter, Gene Stratton, 83 fn., 301 

Preston, Keith, 114, 178 

Pringle, Henry F., 276 

Proust, Marcel, 139, 142 

Pulitzer, Joseph, 209, 214, 297 

Pulitzer Prize, xi, 46, 49, 203-216, 296-297 

Pusey, Edward Bouverie, 195 

Quinn, Michael F., 128, 132, 133 

Rascoe, Burton, 19, 48, 182 

Ray, Man, 169 

Reed, John, 8 

Reidenbach, Garence, 217 

Reynolds, Paul, 197, 198 

Roberts, Rev., 217 

Robinson, Boardman, 130 

Roosevelt, Theodore, no, 276 

Rosenwald, Julius, 64 

Roth, Georges, 289 

Rothermell, Fred, 277, 278, 282, 283, 284, 

287, 288 

Roux, Pierre Paul Etnile, 168 
Rowohlt, Ernst, 250, 254, 256, 258, 259, 

269, 294, 295 
Ruck, Berta, 74 
Russell, Bertrand, 129 
Rutherford, Rev., 217 

Sandburg, Carl, 134, 183, 201, 214, 259, 


Sarg, Tony, 162 
Savage, Harry, 243 
Saxton, Gene, 185 
Schmidt, Matthew, 288 
Scott, Evelyn, 84 
Scott, Geoffrey, 276 
Sedgwick, Ellcry, 12 
Seides, Gilbert, 168 
Selfridge, Harry Gordon, 63 
Shaw, Charles, 256 
Shaw, George Bernard, 43, 49, 82, 84, 165, 


Shea, Joseph E., 262 fn. 
Sheean, Vincent, 278 
Sherman, Stuart, 35, 42, 67, xoo, 108, xi6, 

X27, 151, 170, 177, 178, 180, 184, 203 fn., 


Sherwood, Robert, 225, 226, 227 
Shiveley, Rev,, 217 
Shorter, Clement, 74 
Shubert, Lee, 81 


Shubert Brothers, 60, 62, 81 fn. 

Siddall, John M,, 56, 57 

Siegfried, Andre, 279, 280, 281 

Simpson, Percy, 72 

Sinclair, May, 94, 105, 108, no, m, 168 

Sinclair, Upton, 75, 109, 140 

Slaughter, Mrs. William, 102 

Smith, Harry Bache, 5, 21 

Smith, Winchell, no, m 

Smyth, Clifford, 108, no 

Soule, George, 38, 92 

Stallings, Helen, 287 

Stallings, Laurence, 178, 182, 214, 241, 

257, 284, 287-288 
Stearns, Harold E., 82, 98 
Steele, Wilbur Daniel, 85 
Steffens, Lincoln, 286 
Steichen, Edwin, 169 
Sterling, George, 194-195 
Stewart, Donald Ogden, 92, 135 
Stidger, William L., 193, 194, 207, 216, 

233, 234, 238 
Stieglitz, Alfred, 169 
Stoddard, Richard Henry, 195 
Stokes, Brett, 105 
Stokes, Frederick A., 156 
Strachey, Lytton, xii, 75, 76, 99, 100, 274 
Straton, John Roach, 235 
Sturgis, Major General, 125 
Suclcow, Ruth, 95, 96 
Sunday, Billy, 250 
Swinnerton, Frank, 74, 75, 92 

Tarkington, Booth, 39, 59, 212 
Thompson, Dorothy, 250, 255, 262, 263, 

267, 268, 271, 274, 280, 283, 285, 286, 

288, 290, 294, 295, 296, 299 
Thompson, Grace, 133, 134 
Thomson, General C. B., 150, 152, 153, 

. 55 

Tinker, Chauncey B., 136, 138 
Tobenkin, Elias, 24 
Tolstoi, Leo, 261 

Toohey, John Peter, 38, 39, 40, 45 
Turpin, Alice, 174 
Twain, Mark, ix 

Untermeyer, Louis, 134, 169, 273 fn. 
Updegraff, Allan, 75, 92, 140, 236 


Valentino, Rudolph, 196, 199 

Van Doren, Carl, 47, 85-86, 170, 178, 267 

Van Doren, Irita, 237, 241 

Van Loon, Hendrik Willem, 156, 214 

Van Vechten, Carl, 142 

Veiller, Bayard, 241, 252, 253, 256, 257 

Voltaire, 167 

Walker, Stuart, 81 

Walpole, Hugh, 43, 65, 74, 75, 92, 94, 104, 

105, 112, 113, 126, 271,272, 273 
Walt, Charles, 270 fn. 
Warner Brothers, no, 115, 117, 153, 155, 


Warwick, Countess of, 130 
Washburn, Claude, 34, 35, 81, 85, 87, 129, 

HO, 183 

Wassermann, Jacob, 41 
Watkins, Ann, 241, 279, 280 
Webster, Harold Tucker, 273 
Wells, H. G., 43, 49, 56, 75, 105, no, in, 

13, i34 135, 168, 182 
Wells, Leonard S., 218 
Wells, Thomas B., 55, 167-168 
West, Rebecca, 75, 94, 168, 235 
Wharton, Edith, 43, 82, 139, 142, 168, 180, 

203 fn., 214, 270, 286 
Whitall, James, 75 
Whitcomb, Richard, 125 
White, William Allen, 48-49, 288 
Williams, Blanche Colton, 186 
Williams, Geoffrey, 71 
Williams, Sidney, 281 
Wilson, Woodrow, 174 
Winter, Ella, 286 
Wolfe, Thomas Clayton, 297 
Wolff, Kurt, 176, 184, 188, 222 
Woods, Al, 58, 60 
Woodward, William, 142, 172, 235 
Woolf, Virginia, xii, 289 
Wright, Harold Bell, 19, 83 fn. 
Wycherley, Margaret, 74 
Wylie, Elinor, 138, 151, 227 
Wylie, Horace, 227 

Yeats, William Butler, 38 
Young, Francis Brett, 271 

Zweig, Arnold, 300